On a sunny, mild morning in June, I got to cross something big off my bucket list – “Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride.”
We arrived bright and early at the US Hot Air Balloon Team’s take off point in Bird-in-Hand, PA. Just as I got out of the car, they were inflating the balloon as the sun continued to rise. The trusty crew prepared for flight as we mentally prepared ourselves to be a mile above the farmland.
When the balloon was ready, we climbed into the basket (which was roomier than I expected). Our pilot, Lucas, introduced himself and reassured us that he was no stranger to the sky – he had flown over 2,000 times, in multiple locations in Pennsylvania and even internationally. Before I knew it, the balloon was floating off the ground, gaining height every second. Our cars and the cows in surrounding fields started to look like toys as we floated higher and higher.
The sky was absolutely beautiful – painted with oranges, pinks and blues. As we drifted with the wind, we saw the patchwork pattern of the farmers’ fields, with their perfect lines and contrasting browns and greens. We floated over familiar landmarks that Lucas pointed out along the way. The sights we typically see from car windows looked different and miniature from up above. Since the humidity was relatively low that morning, we were able to see all the way to Harrisburg and the Chesapeake Bay!
We climbed to a mile above the ground as we took in the sights. Since hot air balloons move with the wind, it felt as though we were barely moving at all – a true floating sensation.
After reaching our highest height, we drifted lower to float right above the tree tops. Dogs arked as we sailed over houses, and bunnies scampered through the gardens and fields. We watched the county wake up as traffic picked up on the main roads and people began working – stopping to wave as we sailed overhead.Our flight came to a close and Lucas prepared us for landing. He scoped out a spot among some houses in a small development and called the ground team to meet us there. Landing was as simple as bending our knees as Lucas steered us safely to the ground.
The ground team skillful packed up the balloon and basket, and as quickly as we came, we left – heading back to the take off point. To celebrate the flight, we enjoyed a mimosa toast and sticky buns. The connection between champagne and hot air ballooning is quite interesting. In the early days, pilots in France would carry champagne as a peace offering when they would land in farmer’s field, proving to the possibly confused farmer that they meant well and were, in fact, human.
The hot air balloon ride was an opportunity of a lifetime with breathtaking sights. If this is something lingering on your bucket list, I highly recommend taking flight with the US Hot Air Balloon Team in Lancaster County.