By Susan Van Arsdale
Published Spetember 29, 2022 in The Burg
I have found a new way to travel, one I think you should all try. I had a chance to ride in a hot air balloon a few days ago. It was amazing! It won’t carry you very far. Our trip was only about 4 miles. Our “pilot,” Jason Dunn, owner of “dream incorporated balloon adventures,” said the farthest he had been on one flight was 28 miles. So don’t plan on traveling far.
It also limits the destination and the timing of your flight. Balloons go with the wind current, but 3 to 4, four-mile an hour winds are almost too much because the air above the ground moves faster than it does on the ground, and the best time to fly is early in the morning or late afternoon. We got to go early, very early, one Saturday morning. Our story began at the Macomb balloon rally. I hear there is a rally at Lake Storey, too, and if you have not gone, I highly recommend it. The first night was too windy for most of the balloons, but there were a few “parked” on the field. My husband and I were standing apart from the crowd when a voice behind us asked if we had ever thought of riding in one. The voice belonged to Dunn, who happened to have a balloon there in Macomb. Then he asked if we would like to ride in one the next morning. My first answer was yes. Then I got to thinking about going up in the air, having no control over where we were going, being held up by a balloon, and being back in Macomb at 5 a.m. the next morning. I hesitated. When he moved the time to 6 a.m., we made the commitment. Our lift off destination was at a church on the southwest corner of Macomb. They tested the wind with a small balloon and determined the wind would blow us northeast across WIU and on to the country. Perfect Putting the balloon into the air is quite a process, very interesting to watch. Once the balloon is spread out on the ground, they use a fan to blow cold air into it. The balloon slowly fills, and lies on its side. It isn’t until they add the hot air that it begins to tip to an upright position. At that point it is good to have 2 to 3 strong young men holding on to the ropes to keep it on the ground. Remember? That’s why Dorothy doesn’t get to ride in the balloon back to Kansas! The ride was absolutely as awesome as we thought it would be. We just floated up into the air without really even knowing it. The only sounds were occasional whooshes of gas as he warmed the air in the balloon. Wherever the wind blows is where you go. We floated over WIU with about 14 other balloons, some ahead and some following. Beautiful colors. Beautiful world. The eastern sky was a bit foggy as the sun came up and looked more like an ocean sunrise. When it was time to land, I wondered how that would work. It’s the temperature of the air and the wind current again. He did it – perfectly. Those guys that held the balloon down at first…they chased our balloon and found us, grabbed the ropes we threw down, and gently settled us to the earth. We were lucky. Somehow we were in the right place at the right time to get this free offer for a ride. Most rides that we found were for $200 per person, but the experience is worth it. When you google hot-air balloon rides, there are several in Illinois, but “dream incorporated balloon adventures” is located right here in Galesburg. Dunn, said, “I just want to share the magic with people. I still get goosebumps when I take people on trips. I want others to feel the magic that I feel when I am up in the air.” He gives passenger flights and tethered rides. Dunn also goes to schools and talks about dreams and how to achieve them. He wants kids to think about their dreams and realize that those dreams can come true. His did! And we found that when we were up in the air, looking out at the world and all its beauty and possibilities, it really did feel like dreams could come true.