After two years of delays and failed coordination attempts, I finally got to go up in a hot air balloon and mark that off my bucket list.
The entire process fascinated me, from setting the balloon up to taking it down.
The balloon company is Rohr Balloons. The owner, Brian, and his wife Sherry are personal friends. Their daughter is the same age as my granddaughter and the two girls have gone to school together since first grade.
Once the balloon is attached to the overturned basket, they set in place big diesel-powered fans to begin inflating it.
Next, Brian tests the burners.
Now the balloon is fully inflated and ready to get set upright. Climbing into the basket was a challenge, but I managed. And we took off.
The liftoff is absolutely magical. There is no motion, no sound except for the firing of the burners and you slowly drift up and over the treeline. That was my favorite part! We rose to a little over 6,000 feet. Then I could see forever!
I loved looking upward into the balloon!
We flew for close to an hour and a half. I hate to use the word flew because it was more like floated or drifted. Such an incredibly free feeling and a great way to gain a new perspective on life.
Close to the end of the flight, we did what Brian called a “splash and dash” where he touched the basket down on the surface of a local lake, then quickly rose back up and over the treeline and high line wires. That was fun!
The landing was a little rough. Brian instructed us all on how to brace for the landing and to be prepared for possibly tipping over. That had my heart racing just a little. But he managed to keep us upright and we all safely exited the basket.
Then, we were treated to a champagne toast, and refreshments while Brian relates the story of how that tradition got started. Apparently, in the early days of hot air ballooning, they literally burned wood or other objects to make the balloon rise. The pilots would often land in farmers’ fields and accidentally set fires. So they started bringing libations to appease the farmers. Whether or not that is true, it made for a good story and a toast to a safe landing.
It was a fabulous experience that I look forward to repeating.
If you’d like more information about balloon rides in North Texas, here are some links for you.