Up, Up, and Away

In 1783, the first hot air balloon took to the skies with the only passengers being a sheep, duck, and a rooster. Two hundred and twenty eight years later local pilots float through the skies every year in Lisle’s Eyes To The Skies Festival. However, the worlds oldest flight technology has changed greatly throughout the years.

“In the early days it was a daredevil sport,” said Balloonmeister of the festival Guy Gauthier. “Now it’s evolved, it’s more matured. Most of the balloonists are very serious about ballooning.”

Pilots are no longer flamboyant showmen entertaining circus crowds, but trained aviators that carry an FAA issued license.

“It’s the same one that flies the jet airlines,” said pilot of the Curves balloon Ron Frusher. “Mine doesn’t say jet engine. It says hot air balloon, but I have to follow all the rules and regulations they do with air space.”

Unlike flying with engines, these balloons are always at the mercy of Mother Nature giving pilots limited maneuvering capabilities while in the air.

“At different elevations you get different wind directions,” said Frusher. “You have got to get to the right elevation that will get you in the right direction.”

Once airborne, passengers are treated to a smooth ride and a view from above once only reserved for birds.

“There is nothing like that experience,” said Curves balloon crew member Jeff Lehman. “It’s the closest you will get to flying without wings.”

“There is no roller coaster effect or up and down,” said ReMax balloon crew member Sue Hall. “Do it and you will smile for a week. You really will.”

Whether you are an experienced balloonist or just starting off, stepping into one of these wicker baskets could be the greatest ride of your life.

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