I surprised my wife two weeks ago with our first hot air balloon ride; a surprise two years in the making.
I promised her I would take her on a hot air balloon ride for her wedding present. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that right after our wedding because she had military obligations that took her to the Middle East for a few months. What a way to spend a honeymoon!
Actually, we celebrated our honeymoon last fall – a year after we were married. We were very busy last year and couldn’t seem to find the time to schedule a hot air balloon ride.
The hot air balloon ride was put off multiple times until it was seemingly forgotten. At least, that’s how I wanted it to seem.
Our second wedding anniversary was last month, and I thought the best way to surprise my wife was to give her the wedding present I hadn’t yet been able to give her.
So I did, and believe it or not, I was able to keep it a secret, even though we had to postpone the balloon ride twice due to bad weather.
It was well worth it because we were blessed with a perfect summer evening for our balloon ride. The temperature was in the low 70’s and there was not a cloud in the sky. There was a slight breeze – around 6 mph – which took us on a gentle path through the sky. In short, it was a perfect experience.
Here is a picture we took on our flight (we took off with another balloon):
How to book a hot air balloon ride
Evaluate your options. I started my search online, and found several local hot air balloon companies. I also looked at purchasing a hot air balloon ride ticket via Soaring Adventures, a ticket broker for a variety of air adventures, including hot air balloon rides, glider rides, skydiving, and more. Soaring Adventures offers great deals and a money back guarantee, but in the end, I decided not to go with them.
I needed to book our tickets relatively quickly, and Soaring Adventures doesn’t book the flights – they only sell the tickets in the form of a gift certificate. They mail you the gift certificate with a list of participating members, but unfortunately, they wouldn’t send me a list of participating members before buying the ticket. Even though buying a ticket through soaring Adventures would have saved me about $70, I felt more comfortable being able to speak with the hot air balloon pilot, arrange the dates and locations, and discuss anything else that came to mind before I purchased any tickets.
I called around to several hot air balloon companies in our local area, and the one that impressed me the most was Bella Balloons. The first person I talked to was Mike Gliatti, who is a part owner of Bella Balloons. We hit it off right away. I felt comfortable with Mike and his crew, and that is extremely important to me.
Safety first. During my first phone call with Mike, he discussed safety as being the most important factor of a hot air balloon ride, and we even had to cancel 2 flights before we were able to make our flight. I would much rather a pilot cancel a flight than take a chance with high winds or other risks!
The trip is about you. Mike and his team were also very flexible in making sure our hot air balloon experience was everything we wanted it to be. Bella Balloons is located in Lebanon, OH, and they provide hot air balloon rides throughout the Cincinnati and Dayton area.
Mike and his crew were more than willing to meet us in a convenient location, which saved us a lot of driving. They also offered to do any special requests if we had any (we didn’t).
After the flight, Mike and his crew presented us with a flight certificate and we had a champagne toast to celebrate (we were able to keep the champagne glasses with the Bella Balloons logo – good advertising, and a neat souvenir!).
Here are some photos my wife and I took during our hot air balloon adventure.
This last photo is after we landed in a field. The owners were in the field as we flew over and our pilot asked them for permission to touch down. They invited us down and helped us pack up. It was a lot of fun to meet them!
Notice how tall the balloon is – it’s about 7 stories tall, and we couldn’t even fit the entire balloon in the picture!
If you get the opportunity, I recommend taking a hot air balloon ride.
They are a lot of fun, and it is a very peaceful and relaxing experience.
If you are planning a balloon ride and you live in the Miami Valley area of Ohio, I highly recommend contacting Bella Balloons. They went out of their way to ensure our balloon ride was a beautiful experience.
From start to finish, it was a relaxing adventure and one that I would enjoy repeating. I can’t thank Mike and his crew enough for the awesome experience they gave us. Thanks, guys! 🙂
All photos copyright Ryan Guina.
This article was originally published on Sept. 22, 2008, on my website CashMoneyLife.com.