Back In 1783, one hundred and twenty years before the Wright Brothers made history in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Montgolfier Brothers took to the skies in a balloon. The brothers were papermakers and one night sitting around a campfire they noticed a woman’s dress billowing up around the fire. This vision was the idea that advanced the concept of a lighter-than-air vehicle that was the beginning of manned flight.
As you become one with the wind, you lose the sensations of movement and perception of height, you begin to feel the peacefulness and tranquility of ballooning. If you have not been hot air ballooning, I highly recommend the experience. There is nothing quite like it.
According to Jack and Sue Castellion of Grand Adventures Balloon Tours, “The Fraser Valley is about as good as it gets.” This is an awesome place to fly according to aeronaut, Jack Castellion. With over 27 years flying and an average of 200 days per year in the air, Jack Castellion has already recorded more flight time than most pilots will achieve in a lifetime. Castellion said, “I fell into it but flying quickly became my passion. I have flown in over 20 states from the Florida Everglades to wine vineyards of California”, the Fraser Valley is my favorite, adding, ”Like a farmer; it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.”
Once airborne, Castellion becomes more than just a pilot; he is the local meteorologist, historian, wildlife authority and in part, a joke-cracking, tour guide. Castellion points out the surrounding peaks, landmarks, and just about everything in sight and a few things with his trusty binoculars.
“He’s really an excellent pilot,” says his partner in life and business, Sue Castellion, adding that sometimes “you’re born to do something.” Jack was born to fly.
When the Grand Adventures Hot Air Balloon pilot, Jack Castellion takes off, he never knows exactly where he will land but, one thing is for sure, it is usually picture perfect.
“Cheated death again,” proclaims Castellion, as he touches down near the Linke Ranch on the edge of Cottonwood Pass.
Whether you are just in town visiting or you are a longtime local, I encourage you to get up early, conquer your fears and float on the morning breezes in the Fraser Valley. Each flight concludes with a traditional champagne toast – a tradition over 200 years old – a continental breakfast, and a commemorative flight certificate.
Flights are scheduled at sunrise when the atmosphere is most stable and breezes are gentle.
Grand Adventures Balloon Tours has created a special compartmentalized basket that has safe zones with plastic barriers separating passengers inside the basket. They have a fleet of balloons and baskets to accommodate just about any individual or group. Children age 4 and older can fly, and the Castellions take passengers well into their 80s and people with a wide range of disabilities.Safety is their number one priority and I highly encourage you to contact them today for more information about this magical flying experience.
To contact Grand Adventures Balloon Tours, visit their website, grandadventureballoon.com or call (970) 887-1340.