Yesterday I got to experience the wonder of soaring 2,700 feet above sea level in a hot air balloon at the 35th annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival.
The festival is located near Temecula in Winchester at the Lake Skinner Park. At 6:30 a.m., I met with my pilot David and his crew Lauren, Helen and Skip. They are Gypsy Flights Hot Air Balloon Adventures. David and Lauren are married, Helen is a retired teacher from Burbank and Skip is a sailor and Lauren’s brother. Together they inflated the blue and white balloon on a grassy lawn before rising to the clouds.
David and Lauren have been balloon operators for over 20 years. About 10 years ago they retired to become full time balloonists. They travel to balloon festivals all around America giving rides to newbies and aficionados in the mornings. Later, they gather with their balloon friends to enjoy the food, wine and music at each festival.
Once the balloon was ready, I climbed into the two person basket with Pilot David to start our ascent.
David calmly guided us over the park to take it the picturesque birds eye views. After about a 45 minute ride, David gently piloted the balloon down, and with the help of the chase crew (Lauren, Helen and Skip) guided us to a smooth and safe landing.
Another fun part of the adventure is helping to deflate the balloon and get it back up into the truck. Other balloons were coming down right near us, so we all gathered to help those balloons too.
We went back to the festival lawn to celebrate our adventure with a champagne toast, and fun tailgate fare before saying our goodbyes.
Here are four experiences for you to get up close and personal with a hot air balloon this weekend at the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival.
To learn more about the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival Click here.