Dallas Fort Worth Air Tours' pilots love to show off their city; they just do it from several hundred feet in the air. They lead airborne tours of the urban landscape, using planes and helicopters. They cruise along waterfronts, observe ripples of light across steel and glass sky scrapers, and provide a bird's-eye view of the interplay of concrete and greenery in the city's parks.
Harold "Bubba" Cliver spends more time in the air than some birds. When he's not working as a pilot, he's running Air Adventures Aloft, his hot air ballooning company that takes to the skies for leisurely excursions throughout the calendar year. Below, we've compiled four reasons to clamber aboard one of his company's rainbow-checkered balloons.
1. The sky will change colors during your flight. In good weather, the company's flights soar skyward twice a day: just before sunrise, and two hours before sunset. No matter the time of day, passengers have excellent sightlines to watch the sky puts on its technicolor show.
2. Rides are a little like trips to the zoo. Once they're airborne, passengers can watch North Texas wildlife going about its daily business—whether that means a rabbit poking its head out of its burrow, or a deer heading to spin class in two pairs of bike shorts.
3. You could get engaged in the air. The team offers flights specifically designed for proposals; couples can also opt to get married on their hot air balloon rides.
4. Every flight ends with a champagne toast and other goodies. Even the ones where no one proposes. That is, unless a passenger prefers a non-alcoholic beverage—in which case, orange juice abounds!
Whether grounded or airborne, balloons dominate the festivities at Old Celina Park. On the ground, the vibrantly patterned balloons glow and undulate as propane burners pump them with hot air.
With this canopy of colored dots overhead, the festival’s entertainment comes alive as musical acts such as Jason Boland & the Stragglers along with Dale Watson performing on Saturday take the stage. The Steak Cook-off Association will host a sanctioned steak cook-off to qualify for the championship that will take place in Fort Worth. Inflatables promote adrenaline rushes along with human hamster balls, and a Home Depot Activity Zone.
Boasting more than 26 years in the aviation industry, Breeze Balloons' pilots expertly harness the wind to soar riders over north and east Texas in multihued hot-air vehicles. Pilots helm various sized balloons, which accommodate twosomes or let groups as large as 30 high-five Texan clouds. Pilots also do double duty as safety-training instructors, helping other hot air balloon pilots maintain Breeze Balloons' zero-safety-issue record.
Four Winds Aviation's team of veteran sky jockeys vaults passengers skyward for white-knuckle stunt rides and easygoing introductory flights. Intent on maintaining high safety and training standards, Four Winds’ seasoned flight instructors all hold high-level ratings and have earned hundreds of flying hours from service in the military, careers with commercial airlines, and years of entering aerobatic competitions. On any given day, the crew can be found imparting their passion for soaring upon pupils during training courses ranging from basic aerobatics to discovery introductory flights and flight-training courses. Students spend time on terra firma reviewing safety basics before taking flight in one of Four Winds’ meticulously maintained cloud slicers including Piper Archer airplanes, Pitts S2B aerobatic biplanes, and saddle-equipped flying squirrels. Along with beginner and recreational courses, the instructors also help more experienced flyers accrue the hours, experience, and know-how required to work toward sport, instrument, and commercial pilot's licenses.
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.