Once it's in the air, Skywhalepapa pilot John Wallingtin says, it's just like any other balloon. It floats along beautifully.
But unlike most balloons, this one is a national work of art.
"It's absolutely true that balloonists do not normally fly national works of art, so it's a most unusual situation," Mr Wallingtin, who has been ballooning for more than three decades, said as the sculpture gently began to deflate above him.
A crowd gathered between the National Portrait Gallery and Questacon early on Sunday morning - the first people arrived at 4am - to see Skywhalepapa join Skywhale, the balloon sculpture which in seven years has captured Canberra's imagination.
The sound of petrol-powered fans cut across the ethereal music, as ground crew worked to inflate the balloons. The blaring flames of gas burners above the baskets lit the Skywhales from the inside against a sky shifting from indigo to a light blue wash.
A westerly blowing too strongly meant the Skywhales were not allowed to fly, but they remained tethered, straining against strapping keeping them earthbound, as the sun rose over the Parliamentary triangle.
Piccinini had earlier told the crowd, gathered in pre-dawn darkness, she was was excited, relieved, happy and grateful to to finally see the Skywhales together over Ngambri and Ngunnawal country.
"One of the best and worst things about this project is that we can only fly if nature allows us. We have to have the perfect conditions, it's one of the few situations in life when human beings can't force the world into giving us what we want," Piccinini said.
"But when nature does allow it, it is all the more wonderful and today we've been given a gift. The world has given us this lovely morning. And we've been given the chance to really notice it. And in return, we can give the world the gift of these strange and improbable creatures. I hope she - nature - and everyone else loves them as much as I do."
National Gallery director Nick Mitzevich said the Skywhales launch would be the beginning of more art inhabiting public spaces.
"To see these gigantic works emerge behind us - it's pretty magical. I think once you've seen Skywhales you can't unsee them. They're quite unforgettable. I think it's one of the reasons it's captivated people's attention," Mr Mitzevich said.
Mr Mitzevich said the National Gallery's job was to share art across Australia
It was important, too, Mr Mitzevich said, that art in the 21st century was not limited by old notions of where art belonged.
"It's about making sure that it can connect with people and also that art in the 21st century doesn't have to be a painting or a sculpture in a static gallery. It can inhabit any space if the artist is ambitious enough, and we're fortunate to have worked with Patricia to make sure that her ambitions on this scale can come to fruition," he said.
Jaklyn Babington, the National Gallery's senior curator of contemporary art, said Canberra had matured since Skywhale attracted ire and controversy when it was commissioned for the city's centenary in 2013.
"I think that actually now she has a family, now that Skywhalepapa is here with the children, Canberra is embracing the Skywhale family, like they've wanted to from the start but perhaps didn't have that narrative and that kind of understanding of the concepts behind the work that two balloons will bring," Ms Babington said.
But the unpredictability is part of the work - no artist, curator or balloon pilot can command the weather to ensure the Skywhales fly.
"It's an amazing collaboration between art and science and nature and nature was the collaborator that we were waiting on today. The art and the science were in place - they've been in place for two years - we just needed nature to come to the party today," Ms Babington said.
"It's spectacular but it's also about chance. As we saw today, when you mix those things together, there's lots of suspense. There's lots of excitement. There's getting up in the dark with your family and your friends, and it's an entire environment. It's an immersive experience and a performance as well," she said.
"It gets our heart beating a bit faster."