Wayne Standefer, the head pilot at Balloon Adventures, is well versed in Dallas-area scenery and topography, knowledge that helps him regale passengers with information during flights. The adventure begins as the aircraft is brought to life before your eyes. Once his balloon reaches its full height—more than 10 stories—Standefer invites you inside the tightly woven wicker basket to soar above rooftops and trees and dip low over fields and rivers. Total flight time is usually around an hour, though the whole experience can take three times as long from start to finish.
Balloon Adventures also charters its services for weddings, arranges surprise flights for special occasions, and offers instruction in specific tasks such as rigging the balloon, navigating in-flight, and shooing away flocks of paper airplanes. In addition, the company participates in hot-air-balloon festivals, where clouds of bright purple, orange, and yellow balloons fill the daytime sky or illuminate the festival grounds at night.
Several years ago, Branndon Bargo and his brother set out on a mammoth adventure. Not sure what they were after, they biked 4,000 miles to Baja, Mexico from Alaska and found themselves submerged in the open waters of the Pacific, scuba diving with great white sharks. After a harrowing climb of Mount McKinley in Alaska, Branndon began questioning his motivations for staying at his desk job. So in 2005, he gently kissed his cubicle goodbye and founded Live Adventure as a means of encouraging others to challenge themselves while discovering deeper connections with the world around them. Within Cedar Hill State Park, Brandon organizes team-building programs and encourages groups to kayak, synchronize swim, and fish on Joe Pool Lake. Other expeditions include rock-climbing outings and custom guided jaunts around the planet.
Cindy Gibson hears a lot of ecstatic exclamations from first-time jumpers—including gratuitous use of the words "awesome" and "amazing"—but one of the most memorable remarks she ever heard came from a woman celebrating her 81st birthday. After landing, Cindy asked her why she waited so long to try skydiving. The woman replied that her husband never let her. Then she cracked a sly smile and said, "But now he's dead."
Cindy certainly understands the lifelong desire to skydive. "I don't remember a time when I didn’t want to jump out of airplanes," she says. But growing up, she figured you had to be paratrooper to do it. Then as a waitress in college, she overheard some customers talking about going skydiving, and she convinced them to take her along. The more she went, the more ways she found to improve the experience. With this newfound love and knowledge of the skydiving business, she sought out a parcel of land and a passionate team and founded Texas Skydiving Center.
Today, she and her team of instructors lead tandem jumps, static-line jumps, and solo free falls thousands of feet above their picturesque facility. Beyond using equipment and instructional methods that are compliant with the United States Parachute Association's standards, the instructors' claim their chief difference lies in the individual attention they give each client. Groups are kept small so that all are on a first-name basis, and the instructors ask each person what they hope to do in the air. A bunch of flips? Maybe a zen-like float? On the way down, they can even record the jumps with several filming options. An eco-friendly dropzone then awaits skydivers, where chattering guinea fowl snatch up insects, colorful songbirds flit through wildflowers, and a llama and alpaca knit their own wool into a commemorative scarf for each successful skydiver.
Since 1982, Spirals Gym & Ed-Venture Kids Center has been helping kids hone balance, coordination, and muscle control via competitive gymnastics programs. Today it has expanded to include swimming lessons and afterschool activities, during which kids jump on trampolines and participate in outdoor group activities. Their newest program, the Ed-Venture Kids Academy Preschool, emphasizes both childhood academic learning and physical education, with the intention of helping to prepare children for elementary school. Members of a dedicated staff supervise all activities, whether they are taking place on the 40’x40’ carpeted and padded spring floor or on the trampoline.