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A storm off the East Coast affected the wind as far in as Charlottesville so our May morning flight with Rick Behr of Boars’ Head Ballooning was cancelled the night before our scheduled flight. Rick offered to reschedule for the day after in hopes that the wind might calm. We said yes! Cancelled again. After that, we had only one more day in Charlottesville but no opportunity for a third try as Rick was completely booked for that day. Didn’t look like we were going to get our balloon ride. Then Rick offered to check with another balloon pilot in the area; a competitor or Rick’s. Our last day in Charlottesville proved to be perfect weather for hot air ballooning so off Rich and his balloon-basket full of students went, soaring skyward towards beautiful puffs of clouds. We watched them ascend from the perch of our own already airborne balloon. Thank you Rick for making it happen!
My First: Balloon Ride
My daughter wanted only one thing for her 7th birthday. To take a ride in a hot air balloon. At first I was psyched. Then everyone I told including my very non-alarmist father said, “Really? Is that safe?” So I tried to convince her that what she really wanted to do was go to Massanutten Water Park. Needless to say, that didn’t work. Despite the tragic accident that occurred in Virginia earlier this year, hot air balloons are relatively safe. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 10 people have died in the United States in hot air balloon accidents in the last 10 years and accidents are extremely rare. I decided to go for it. I wanted to encourage her cool birthday request and loved that she didn’t ask for anything American Girl related. We contacted Rick Behr at Boar’s Head Ballooning at about 7pm on a Sunday night. He said he would meet us at 6am the next day. Well, at least I didn’t have time to think about it! Rick has been piloting balloons for 34 years in Charlottesville and all over the world. We felt very safe in his hands. It was stunning once we got up but slightly nerve wracking as we moved untethered around town. Rick explained that balloon pilots never really know where they will land. They communicate with the other balloons around town to feel out the winds at different altitudes and estimate where they will be able to come down after an hour or so. Then a truck on the ground comes to meet the balloon to help get it down and take everybody back to the launch site. My daughter loved the whole experience and reminded me that we just had to trust that we would be ok. She even stayed calm when got a double ride since the wind didn’t exactly cooperate with our landing. I stayed calm too because you really have no choice in this situation but to surrender to the experience. I was kissing the ground when we got down but in a good way. I’m really glad we did it. If this is on your bucket list, definitely go for it. If you like to wonder where you will land day after day, become a hot air balloon pilot!
It’s Obvious blog
A Great Adventure!
We’ve always thought of ballooning, but were put off a bit by the unknown. We were so glad to finally do this! Rick is a true professional – serious in his duties, but a good host with a nice team. Charlottesville is beautiful to begin with, but from the air it is magical. I can’t recommend enough ballooning with this company at this site. You will not be sorry!!