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Up, Up, and Away

Several CBT Nuggets team members got to go flying last weekend, thanks to our generous CEO.

At the crack of dawn, we arrived at an airport south of Portland. Though none of us had been in a hot air balloon before, our fearless pilot let us pitch in and help set up.

Look closely — they’re holding on to a strap attached to the balloon!

For two people, that meant holding onto a strap while the balloon was inflated. Easy enough at first, but quite a bit harder once the balloon was inflated!

Finally, the roar of the fire and the gorgeous glowing balloon signaled it was almost time for departure.

We loaded up and soon started rising slowly above the ground, trees, and power lines. As we rose into the dawn sky, it was hard not to feel a little like Dorothy, departing Oz for Kansas. We tried not to think about how that ride ended for her (let’s just say we were happy there wasn’t a Toto along for our trip).

Part of Team CBT, on the right side of the basket.

Just as we began to get our “air legs,” the pilot announced it was time for a photo. A camera attached to slim cables swung out from the balloon. We smiled (not hard to do) as the pilot snapped the shutter via a remote control.

As the sun started to rise, we drifted peacefully above Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In the distance, we spotted other hot air balloons taking to the skies. Below us, a vista of forest and farmland unfolded.

Eventually, our altitude decreased as we prepared to land. At one point, we flew at the same level as the treetops around us — a very cool perspective.

Due to a shift in wind direction, we landed in a slightly different place than intended.

The ground crew — with CBT helpers — pulls the balloon to a landing field.

We touched down in someone’s backyard, with no immediate access for our chase crew. The crew quickly got permission from a neighboring farmer to land in their field, but first, we needed to get the balloon over there.

For half of us, this meant a bonus ride. But for the other half, it meant getting out of the balloon, then guiding us across a road and over a couple of fences. Hard work, but the gallant guys got it done.

Then it was time to toast the crew, have a bite of breakfast, and share our flight tales with everyone we could.

A ride to remember!


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