Aero Force Balloons
"What an absolutely wonderful experience, from start to finish! This was our little "honeymoon," and we enjoyed every minute of it! Captain Bill is extremely professional (an ex-Air Force flight controller) without being uptight; in fact, his banter with his wife Janet and assistant Becky is a source of constant amusement. :) Nevertheless, he promised to call us the day of our scheduled flight "around 2:00." The first time we tried to fly, we received a call right at 2:00 informing us that, unfortunately, storm clouds were on the way and the risk was too high to fly. But we rescheduled and, again, right at 2:00 on the day of our flight, we received a call saying we were on for that evening. When we arrived, we were struck by three things: the friendliness and light-heartedness of Bill and his team, the cleanliness and orderliness of their equipment, and the professionalism and clarity with which we were told the plan for the evening and given directions to follow for each stage of the flight. We all climbed into Bill's van and headed out to the launch site, alternately asking Bill about his many adventures in the Air Force and laughing along with the team's banter. When we arrived, we all pitched in to help unload and position the equipment, then we passengers were able to photograph the team and the balloon as everything was unpacked and readied for launch. Bill thinks of everything, including having bottles of water in the gondola in case passengers get thirsty and making sure that someone from the team takes a photograph of us all just before launch. Then we were off -- and what a flight! Skimming over the treetops, flying high and dipping low, watching the landscape unfurl beneath us unhurriedly while Bill pointed out landmarks and shared stories and folklore about the area's history, from battles with Indians and the home where Abraham Lincoln's father lived, to legends about a half-man, half-goat that haunted a railway trestle, luring people to their doom. He also pointed out all of the wildlife that the area boasts: deer aplenty, a fox, and blue herons and hawks -- often nesting in trees, where we could even see white, hawk chicks and big, heron eggs. We left in the late afternoon and landed about a half-hour before dusk, just enough time to help pack up the balloon (including a walk inside of it!) and enjoy a glass of champagne with the crew -- along with the story from Captain Bill of why champagne is the traditional drink after a balloon flight. Bill also e-mailed us the flight path the day after our flight, so that we could trace exactly where we had gone. The whole experience was truly exceptional, well worth the money -- and it's already a great deal to begin with. We had checked prior to booking with Aero Force, and other companies gave only group trips, often for a higher price, and charged a great deal extra if a couple wanted to go just on their own with the captain. The champagne at the end is also a very, very nice touch, topping off an already wonderful experience. We're huge fans of Aero Force, and if you are considering a balloon ride for 1-3 people, we strongly encourage you to go with Aero Force. If your experience is even half as good as ours, you are sure to be pleased! Note: you may not be forced to help with the packing and unpacking, but my wife and I are both young and strong, and Bill asked us. Honestly, we cherish that he did; the balloon itself is so interesting, and the crew so fun, that pitching greatly added to the experience and really made the trip feel like it was "ours." Thank you so much to Bill, Janet, and Becky, we hope to have the chance to fly with you again!"