Lifting off from Memorial Lake Park, Ventures Aloft's checkered hot-air balloon embarks on 45-minute sunrise and sunset flights over the northern Ohio countryside. As passengers rise skyward, more and more of the nearby landscape reveals itself, including Memorial Reservoir, the City of Norwalk, and Woodlawn Cemetery. The outfit conducts its flights from April to November in Norwalk, then heads west for the warm weather of Tucson from January to March.
The crisscrossed emerald landscape south of Cleveland slips silently beneath up to eight passengers in a balloon’s large basket. A skilled pilot adds or releases pressure to the vessel, punctuating the otherwise still air over the stunning panoramas and placid scenes of sprawling greenery. Guests can also opt to charter private flights, allowing them to experience romantic moments or ask embarrassing questions about where clouds come from. All of HiLife Ballooning’s flights take off in the early morning or evening when winds are at their gentlest, allowing the captain to set the balloons down gently.
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For a quarter of a century, Fun Makers' licensed, FAA-certified pilots have guided thousands of passengers skyward during hot-air-balloon tours of Ohio's lakes, valleys, forests, and rolling plains. Pilots update their training annually to stay informed on ballooning guidelines, and each sendoff begins with a passenger orientation that briefs guests on flight basics, personal safety, and how to deflect dive-bombing ostriches. After touching back down, passengers commemorate their voyage with a champagne toast and a first-flight certificate. In addition to hot-air-balloon rides, Fun Makers' staff travels to large and small events at colleges, festivals, and churches bearing a variety of portable entertainment including rock-climbing walls, bungee trampolines, and mechanical rodeo bulls.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.