I’ve never been one for heights.


That feeling of nothing below me and looking down to confirm it has never been acceptable.


I’ve never been one for heights.

That feeling of nothing below me and looking down to confirm it has never been acceptable.

My stomach drops, to hang out with my toes for a second, before I take a couple mandatory deep breaths and calm my heart to a pace that can be considered sort of normal.

I often times lose control of my hands, which shake and grab at the nearest pole, handrail or person for some kind of stability.

The thing is, I also love the thrill of many things that tend to put me in this situation. I can’t get enough of roller coasters, for example, and I’ll be on a road trip to Six Flags in a second if someone asks me.

So, when I found out hot air balloons were coming to Three Sisters Park, I volunteered my weekend just to possibly get the chance to go up in one.

I wasn’t promised a ride, but the possibility was enough, and I was at Balloons at the Park all night July 16, as part of a small crew getting a balloon up to glow that evening.

Unfortunately, the winds weren’t right. If the balloonists were to fly, they could only go up for two to three minutes, landing in the park because the winds were headed straight for the river.

I was a little heartbroken to say the least. I wanted to feel my stomach drop as the balloon took off and experience that quiet you could only get that high up and in such a simple machine.

So, I may have not been able to fly in one of those beautiful balloons in the sky, but I was able to experience them close up and see how they worked.

I was put with a balloonist named Darcy Hoch, whose balloon’s name was Hot Pursuit, and his family. His wife, Marcy, and sons, Lance and Kole, travel with him to different balloon events about six weekends out of the year.

A family from Iowa, they love ballooning and were apologetic they could not get me up in the air.

When it came time to set up for the evening glow, Darcy moved the basket off the van and laid it on its side. His brother-in-law, Rick, dragged the envelope (the balloon) in front of the basket and began spreading it out. The balloons are made up of two layers and the top part needs to be attached to the rest, so Marcy and Rick began attaching them by Velcro.

Once the envelope was attached to the basket, Darcy used a gas powered fan to fill the balloon with cool air, to open it up, then he began filling it with hot air and to my amazement, the balloon quickly rose. It was a matter of maybe a minute before the balloon was off the ground.

Rick and Marcy helped keep the balloon on the ground by sitting on the sides of the basket, and I soon joined in.

The heat from the gas was incredible, and I was sure my head was going to get fried.
Don’t worry, it didn’t.

As Darcy gained control of the amount of hot air needed to keep the envelope up, but not leave the ground, I was able to take my weight slowly off the basket and he stayed on the ground, just himself weighing it down.

Walking amongst those giant balloons as they glowed on and off made me feel so miniscule. The heat and noise from each of the balloons was enough to make people have to raise their voice to talk and keep them a bit of a distance away.

It’s events like this that really show you how passionate someone can be about something other than their job or family.

These balloonists put so much time and money into a hobby that can be appreciated by so many people and they should be proud of the happiness they bring to all those onlookers, with their heads craned back looking straight toward the sky.

Chelsea Peck is the associate editor of the Chillicothe Times-Bulletin