Fly Away

Due to a random happenstance, Caleb and I ended up with 2 tickets for a hot air balloon ride in Amish country, north in Pennsylvania. A stipulation of these tickets is that they would expire on December 31st, so we busted a move and made it happen the weekend after we got them.

It was the Sunday before Christmas weekend, and it was clear and cold. Very cold. Even more cold the more north we drove. Our destination was a lovely Amish and Mennonite town by the name of Bird-in-Hand. The ballooning headquarters was a shack with a big field out back. We were running late (per usual) and they were just taking the balloon out of the trailer. We proceeded to sign our lives away and watch the inflation of the voluminous balloon begin.

Inflating Balloon

Since it was a slightly windier day, we had to board the basket in a more entertaining way. Riding with us was a family of 4 and another couple. The basket was made up of 3 sections. 1 section held the family, another the other couple and us. The third section held the pilot. We started out having to lie down in the basket, with the basket on it’s side. The family of 4 was above Caleb and I, and the girl from the other couple. Once the balloon right-sided itself, the pilot and the guy from the other couple jumped in. Fly away up!

Boarding the Basket

Waiting for lift off was actually quite exciting, and the burner took some getting used to. The poor girl and boy riding were so scared. Though of course after lift off the boy thought it was all great fun and wanted to take off again. During the whole trip, the children faded in and out of being really excited and being terrified. It was really very adorable.

We peaked fairly quickly at around a mile high, then descended down beneath the clouds and spent the majority of the trip hovering over Amish farm houses and fields. Several times there were Amish families outside and they would stop and wave to us, watching us float over them. There was one Amish man in particular that Caleb waved to. Caleb would wave, then the man would wave back. It just kept going back and forth. Such polite people they are. I’m really not sure why they wouldn’t use a hot air balloon as transportation as opposed to a buggy. I mean, there’s no electricity involved. Just fire and gas, I think the first hot air balloon was flown in the 1700s. So really, if it was more practical to take off in a balloon, I would fully advocate the migration from buggy to balloon.

Flying in the balloon

Our ride lasted about an hour from take-off to landing. Amish country is great for ballooning since there are so many fields, but the pilots really don’t need that much room to land in. We ended up landing in someone’s front yard. The picture on the right is the deflating of the balloon. Two Amish families met us when we landed and helped the balloon people put the balloon away. The children were so excited. In the picture below with the Amish families, look on the left and you’ll see one little boy with a brimless hat. He was our favorite.

Touching down

Amish Family

It was a great trip, and we were very blessed to have come into possession of these tickets. It also crossed Amish country off of our lists since Caleb had never been. I visited as a kid, but that was a long time ago. This was a different view, both by age and physical viewpoint.

The ballooning was a great experience, and ended with a champagne toast.

*The company we went through was the U.S. Hot Air Ballooning Team in Lancaster. Highly recommended, our pilot was fantastic.

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