Experiences.com: In a few sentences, tell our readers the history and experience of In Flight Balloon Adventures.
When a college friend said that he was taking hot air balloon lessons, I thought he was whacked out. That was in the early 70’s and I already had my single engine airplane rating. I started helping (crewing) and went on to get my balloon rating. Soloing in 74.
I was fortunate enough to fly for Malcomb Forbes (shape balloons in France), Bennihana and others gaining experience. In 1987 I purchased a balloon and started In Flight Balloon Adventures LLC. Today I have 6 experienced pilots that help me provide a personalized flying experience. Our most popular flight is the exclusive 2 person, we also can handle groups.
Experiences.com: Give us a profile or examples of the people or groups who have taken rides in your balloons during the past year.
Most of our clients are celebrating a special occasion and they want their own balloon. Because we have a number of pilots we can usually provide the service on their special day. Proposals are popular, we do about 50/year. We do corporate groups and party tethers. Family?, no problem.
Experiences.com:What are some of the favorite views or vistas from the basket of your balloon flights?
We fly over scenic, rural Hunterdon County New Jersey. Skimming over the tops of trees, cornfields, rivers, observing red tail hawks, white tail deer, wild turkeys, or flying to heights that provide spectacular views that may include the skyline of New York City, Philadelphia and the Delaware Water Gap.
Experiences.com: Describe an amazing or special experience you have shared with your passengers during a flight.
A lot of our launches have multiple balloons. This offers a greater photo opportunity for the client (they exchange e-mail addresses for photo sharing at the Champagne Party). The pilots also enjoy flying with other balloons.
Experiences.com: Do you offer any “special rides” or “featured tours” during ballooning season? What do they feature?
The Overnight Romantic Adventure is very popular. It is three items in any order and we make the arrangements. It is a exclusive 2 passenger flight followed by a Champagne and Hors d’oeuvres Party, dinner for 2 at the restaurant where we meet, and one night in the B&B of your choice. For engagement flights we have a WILL YOU MARRY ME? banner, it works.
Experiences.com:Do you have special activities for your passengers, either before, after, or during flights?
Orientation before, commentary during and a Champagne and Hors d’oeuvres party after.
Experiences.com: Do features or activities of your balloon rides vary by season? How?
The vibrant green colors make the summer popular. Fall is our most popular time with the color changes, and winter provides some interesting snow covered landscapes. The same service is offered year round.
Experiences.com:What percentage of your balloon rides are given as “gifts” and how do gift recipients typically react?
A lot of our flights are a surprise. Most are pleasantly surprised and can’t wait to get in the air. We also sell Gift Certificates and I am not around for the reaction, it must be positive, as most certificates are flown.
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?
We meet at a very nice restaurant with a bar that sometimes comes in handy. We try and not bring the client out unless the conditions are favorable for flight but weather is a changing force and we are respectful of nature. Occasionally we direct clients to the near by town of Clinton, NJ. It is a historic quaint village that has great shops with a waterfall by a bridge and a old mill (the most photographed spot in NJ).
Experiences.com: Is there anything else you would like to tell folks about the ballooning experience or In Flight Balloon Adventures?
I believe when people call for a flight, most think that they will be the only passengers on the balloon. That is what we offer. My business has grown mainly from the referrals of delighted customers. I feel comfortable with all the pilots, chosen for their experience and their concern for the passengers wishes.
Special thanks to Thomas Baldwin, owner of In Flight Balloon Adventures, for his informative interview