Friday, July 20, 2007

Hot Air Balloon Ride over Waukesha

I was given the opportunity of a lifetime today: a free ride on a hot air balloon as part of a media event at the Waukesha County Fair. The catch was that I had to get there at 5 am. When the story was offered to me, I jumped at the chance, even if it meant getting up at a little after 4 am. And, I am so happy that I did. The morning started out with uncertainty when the pilots launched a blue toy balloon to learn of the wind conditions. It didn't look good: 25 knots at 700 feet. I was told the chances of us going up were only 50/50. We all went about our work and I managed to get my needed sources before we got the go-ahead to lift off at 6 am. I went up with a seasoned pilot, Ken Walter, who runs a commercial hot air balloon business in addition to working as a home inspector. He had organized today's event.

We got off to a quick start and the only way that I kept myself from feeling scared was to enjoy the scenery without thinking that I was gracing the sky high up and only in a big wicker basket. To think that I was so close to falling out and held in by nothing was and is a scary thought. So, I focused my attention on taking pictures and looking at the beauty below me.
The flight felt like it was over almost right after it started. We rode the currents across the sky for about 30 minutes before finding a field to land in. We spotted a field slightly beyond a horse farm and landed there. Then our crew guided the basket and balloon to a yard of a home that was for sale. So there was the 6 person crew with a huge balloon spread out on a road in a subdivision. Neighbors were taking pictures and we got so many looks from the horses and the people.

I really enjoyed my time in the air, but I wish that we could have been up longer and that we would have traveled over countryside versus city. But, I am still extremely thankful for this opportunity and to have hung out with some really cool people. Their bond was huge and inspiring.
If anyone ever wants to get married or engaged in a hot air balloon, I can steer you in the right direction!

"It matters immensely. The slightest sound matters. The most momentary rhythm matters. You can do as you please, yet everything matters."
-Wallace Stevens


Bryon Houlgrave said...

Very nice work, Katherine. I'm happy you had fun, but I'm still bummed that we didn't get to go up together.

Desana said...

Good post.