I had almost forgotten that I spent one summer in the early 2000s chasing hot air balloons for some extra cash. Wake up call was typically 430am since the best time to fly was at sunrise with the wind patterns and views. (Being a night owl, this was definitely a struggle, especially on my days off on sporadic weekends between working events)
Being in Central FL, the tourist capital of the world, there are always waves of tourists ready to spend money and book an unforgettable vacation experience. Flying over Disney World would definitely qualify.
My role was to carefully lay out all the tie down ropes prior to the guests arriving, then use my body weight (along with others) to hold the ballon down while the gas pumped it up. It was truly fascinating to see the power of helium and the glow in the darkness of the sea of balloons getting ready for flight.
As the balloons glided skyward, us runners loaded into the follow van to be staged at the end drop point an hour later. Routes were fairly consistent but with the unpredictability of wind, we would be pulled over on the side of the road watching the balloons soar far above.
Upon descent, we would catch the bucket and help offload all the smiling passengers. They would also be rewarded with champagne and fruit to celebrate their feat. Then it was time to catch the balloon being deflated and carefully roll it up for storage until the next flight. These apparatuses were extremely fragile and any holes could obviously be detrimental.
To this day, I still haven’t taken my own flight as for many years I was scared of heights. Through my numerous crazy hiking and climbing treks, I have now outgrown that fear but my dream has always been to take my leap in the one and only Cappadocia, Turkey. If you’ve never heard of this amazing location, do yourself a favor & put it on your travel bucket list.