Setting my alarm for 3 am feels too early. But knowing I
would soon be in a hot air balloon over the Grand Tetons, I could definitely
jump up. For me, the Tetons are a majestic view I will never tire of and for
many people, it’s a view they travel thousands of miles to see. So why not see
them up close in a hot air balloon?
Teton Balloon Flights gives people this magical experience almost every day, all summer long. I wanted to highlight this business for our Build a Better Business series not only because hot air ballooning is so cool, but business owner Kevin Morgan really believes in the mission of the BBB and prides himself on being an owner of a trustworthy business.
We, meaning myself and our videographer Mike di Donato, met
Kevin and his crew bright and early as the sun was barely lightening the sky.
We were both excited and ready to see how a hot air balloon is set up and
launched. One thing I didn’t realize was the conditions have to be almost
perfect to fly a hot air balloon; even the slightest breeze can scratch the
launch of an amazing trip.
That morning there was a slight breeze but I didn’t think
much of it since the wind tends to always blow in Idaho. But Kevin informed us
that if the wind is 8 mph or above it isn’t safe to fly. Besides watching wind
speeds, they also perform a test sending a helium balloon up in the air and
watch how it flies to see which direction the wind is moving and if it’s too
breezy. So they tested it, and of course our bad luck that balloon flew almost
sideways, showing the wind speed was too high.
A little broken-hearted, we attempted to wait the wind out.
Meanwhile, Kevin offered to take us to one of his launch sites and show us the
process for setting up the balloon and preparing for take-off. We jumped in the
van and ended up in a beautiful meadow looking straight at the Teton’s; breathtaking!
Now Kevin isn’t alone, these hot air balloons are very big
and take a crew to layout and blow up. His crew immediately got to work setting
up the basket, methodically taking the balloon out of its case and laying it
just right out on the ground. It is so much more involved than I imagined, and
I didn’t realize how delicate the balloon itself is and how careful they must be
with it. As the crew moved around quickly each doing their specific job, the
balloon began to take shape.
I almost felt like Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz, as they set
up the basket and turned on the fire to begin inflating the balloon. It's such
a cool experience to see how this piece of nylon turns into something so
majestic. Unfortunately, the winds were against us that day and we weren’t able
to fly. However, just watching Kevin and his crew was awesome, and nothing
beats watching the sunrise over the Tetons.