When his daughter came home one day wide-eyed, telling her father he should try hot air ballooning, Ed Steele put on his best “dad” act.
“I did my best imitation of a father and said, ‘Don’t you know how dangerous those things are?'” he said. “Then I found out some people were looking for crew people for a ballooning rally where they pick you up. We went out and learned crew and helped at the balloon fair.”
According to Steele, the “granddaddy” of all hot air balloon events is in Albuquerque, NM. Fifteen years ago, his family attended the balloon fair, and his oldest daughter urged him to try the craft, telling him “You won’t believe this. You have to try this.”
So he did. Steele got his first ride, and while he was in the air, a female instructor questioned him about his interest in ballooning. Steele, who used to fly airplanes when he was younger, was asked if he’d like to try ballooning as a pilot.
From that point on, Steele was hooked. “I always thought of it as something for rich people. Ballooning is an entirely different kind of flying from getting in an airplane.”
Steele, who lives Mount Shasta, CA resident, got his ballooning license then later bought his first hot air balloon and started giving rides.
“I discovered I really liked sharing it with other people,” he said. Although there aren’t many people who have ridden on a hot air balloon, that doesn’t stop Steele from enjoying the thrill it gives other people. “You have one person in 100 who has been on a balloon before, but everybody goes away with a big grin on their face after a ride.”
Steele, owner of Shasta Valley Balloons, advises those interested in ballooning to hang around someone who loves to do it. His company has daily flights over the Shasta Valley, which he calls “one of the most magnificent volcanic peaks in the world.”
Included in his four-hour ballooning adventures is a flight over Shasta Valley with a balloon inflation and launch at dawn, an open-air brunch, a toast with the pilot and a full-color commemorative certificate. Flights are given year-round weather permitting. Cost is $200 per passenger with a minimum of two people. Single spaces are available on partially booked flights or you can have a private charter for up to four for $750.00.
Additionally, Steele also offers wedding and anniversary which include a one-hour flight for up to four passengers or two 30-minute hops to accommodate eight people, brunch, toast and a certificate. Party flights are also available for birthdays, graduations and holidays. Meditation flights are also offered which enable passengers to practice sitting, chanting and walking as the balloon is set up and also includes brunch, toast and a certificate.
For those looking to take pictures of the scenery, photography flights are offered which have photographic opportunities throughout the morning, a one-hour flight over Shasta Valley at elevations to enhance picture-taking from gorgeous “panoramic scenery to treetop-brushing views of landscape.”
If you’re unable to go on a flight, cyber-rides are available on Steele’s Web site. The site offers lists of where to stay and things to do in the Mt. Shasta region of northern California. Additionally, a list of balloon flight training, lessons, repairs, books and consulting are available. A hot air balloon map is located on the Web site where you can find a balloon ride or ballooning companies in your area. And for your shopping needs there is a Balloonatics Mall which is a complete source of hot air ballooning supplies, books, souvenirs, gifts and other items.
For more information call 530-926-3612 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.