High above a lush vineyard, the morning sky brims with creatures of flight: an eagle, a large bumblebee, a pigeon that forgot how to land. These were just some of the sights Airbus Balloon Rides' owner Andy Richardson imagined would greet his future down-gazing passengers. He first fell in love with the roar of a hot air balloon's flame just before entering the second grade, and that passion has driven his dreams ever since. Ten years after buying his first balloon at age 14, Andy now commands a fleet of rainbow-colored balloons that come in standard and specialty shapes. These colorful vessels set the elevated stage for individual flights and tethered rides helmed by Andy and his talented team. Flights lift off at sunrise, in the afternoon, and at sunset, when the low sun paints an orange-red glow over water, fields, and reindeer still stuck on rooftops.
Back on land, Airbus Balloon Rides also educates visitors on hot air balloon creation inside their balloon factory, which welcomes tours. At the end of each tour, the guides lead guests in a champagne or mimosa toast with accompanying hors d'oeuvres, celebrating their skyfaring adventures together.
The Hunter family knows bees. At their family-owned and operated farm, they continue a more than 100-year-old tradition of producing honey and honey-related products. Managing several hundred hives across the state of Indiana, Hunter farms produce honey, beeswax, bee pollen, and propolis, which is used to make everything from beeswax soap and lip balm to honey hot-wing sauce and 32 different flavors of honey sticks.
Guided tours of the honey farm teach groups of all sizes and ages about the work of the honeybee, while forestry tours introduce tourists to the farm’s 65 acres of hardwood. The beehive tour lets guests shadow a beekeeper on the job while "Flight of the Bumblebee" plays on repeat in their heads. The Worker Special tour includes even more hands-on learning, teaching visitors how to roll their own beeswax candle and fill bear-shaped containers with honey.
With the sunrise, Midwest Balloon Rides’ hot air balloons slowly rise into the morning sky for sprawling views of the Indiana landscape. They also take off at sunset, but no matter what time their kaleidoscopic balloons enter the wild blue yonder, a licensed pilot is at the helm. They gently navigate the vessel to ensure a safe journey that doesn’t end up somewhere over the rainbow but back on the ground for a ceremonial toast to celebrate the occasion.