Experiences.com: In a few sentences, tell our readers the history and experience of Balloon Flying Service of Oregon.
The company was incorporated in 1989 and has been flying daily since May of that year. We do scenic rides over the mid-Willamette Valley covering farm, vineyards, rivers, streams, urban areas and the Capitol Mall. We carry a pilot plus four on a normal flight of an hour to an hour and a half in the air followed with a history of ballooning.
Experiences.com: Give us a profile or examples of the people or groups who have taken rides in your balloons during the past year.
We have done 2 weddings in the air, 5 (private) betrothal flights, dozens of Birthday, Anniversary, Retirement and gift flights for Graduation from both High School and College. We have flown several family groups often covering or 4 generations.
Experiences.com: What are some of the favorite views or vistas from the basket of your balloon flights?
The area and the track of our flight will vary daily and carry us over farm country which will vary from season to season based on what crops are in demand at the local canneries. We also have several wineries on some of our tracks that are outstanding. Some tracks will carry us over the urban area of Salem and Keizer and will give our passengers views of their home neighborhood and often a trip over the State Capitol Mall area. Each track will vary even when we use the same launch site more that once.
Experiences.com: Describe an amazing or special experience you have shared with your passengers during a flight.
Every flight is an “Adventure” sometimes it will be the special occasion of one or more of the passengers, or the launching off the passengers front or back yard. We move to private property when the case meets our safety requirements. We often cross over the Willamette River which winds through the Valley we fly in. When crossing the river we sometimes do a “practice landing” on the water, which creates some excitement and a great photo too. As I stated above we do weddings in the air and betrothal as well. Each of those activities are unique unto themselves.
Experiences.com: Do you offer any “special rides” or “featured tours” during ballooning season? What do they feature?
We do “Private Flights” with only two passengers, sometimes for birthday, anniversary and as stated earlier a betrothal. In the fall we do “tree color change” flights to show off our designation as a “Tree City”. In the spring we have two of the largest Iris growers in the country and do flights over these fields. We also have the largest tulip gardens in the state in our area and do “bloom” flights over these fields.
Experiences.com: Do you have special activities for your passengers, either before, after, or during flights?
We have a traditional post flight celebration which includes a continental breakfast, champagne toast, presentation of a framed certificate. We post a story about each flight on our web site www.balloonflying.com (recent flights) with comments from our passengers and 30 or more linked full color pictures.
Experiences.com: Do features or activities of your balloon rides vary by season? How?
We do fly year around but in the winter months (Nov.-Feb) the weather has more influence as to our scheduling.
Experiences.com: What percentage of your balloon rides are given as “gifts” and how do gift recipients typically react?
About 50% are issued as gift certificates but few are a total surprise as the gifts are given away and the recipient books the flight at there convenience.
Experiences.com: I know, from experience, that wind and weather play a big role in whether balloon rides launch as scheduled and that everything is done to avoid inconvenience. However, if a flight has to be canceled on the day scheduled what earthly activities do you recommend in the general area of your balloon rides?
About 80% of our passengers are from the local area (within 30 mile circle) so they have a back up plan. We do have a information sheet that is updated
a couple of times a week that is carried with us to the launch site.
Experiences.com: Is there anything else you would like to tell folks about the ballooning experience or Balloon Flying Service of Oregon?
We consider our services similar to a limo ride and we treat our passengers like that. We don’t have them “help” with the process of assembly and tear down. Some do like to get involved and those passengers are given the opportunity, but on a limited bases. All that we want them to bring is there curiosity, camera and the desire to share the “Experience of a Lifetime”.
Special thanks to Jim from the Balloon Flying Service of Oregon for this informative interview.