For a Pure Michigan experience check out the Howell, Michigan hot air balloon festival this weekend June 22, 23 & 24, 2012. The blue skies of Michigan will once again be filled with spectacular hot air balloons at this, one of Michigan's most beloved events. For more information visit http://www.michiganchallenge.com
Ballooning is an incredible experience for both those on the ground and those in the gondola itself. Those who operate hot air balloons in Michigan love to share it with anyone enterprising enough to take flight. As an avid hot air balloon pilot since 1982 and fan of Michigan's natural wonders, Scott Lorenz has been fortunate to see the beauty of Michigan from atop his perch at slightly above the treetops.
"Last year we flew directly over the area where they are reintroducing Osprey back into Kensington Park in Milford. Just about every year we near a great blue heron rookery located on an island in Kensington Park's Kent Lake near Milford. It's pretty incredible to see dozens of these giant birds with their six-foot wing spans hovering around their nests. We've peered down directly into their bushel basket sized nests with one or two eggs," says Lorenz, President of Westwind Balloon Company. http://www.PureMichiganBalloon.com
"I flew an Ornithologist from the University of Michigan a few years ago and he helped me identify dozens of birds by sight and sound. Now I recognize the call of Sand Hill Cranes half a mile away and tell my passengers to keep an eye out for them. I am fortunate to meet some incredible people in my business and learn something from every flight." "In fact, I flew the Chief Meteorologist from Ann Arbor's Weather Underground. Considering hot air ballooning is 100% weather related I thoroughly enjoyed our discussions about the nuances of Michigan weather at sunrise and sunset. Lorenz has flown some other notables too including Jessica Starr of FOX-2 in May this year. http://youtu.be/TdtwaDxYTjE
Lorenz loves 'music in the air' and flies musicians on a regular basis. Legendary Detroit guitarist Josh White Jr. even brought his guitar along for a concert in the air a couple years ago. "On Friday, June 22 we had made arrangements with the Michigan Philharmonic Orchestra to fly a trumpeter over their annual concert at Kensington Park but the powers that be at the Huron Valley Metro Parks would not allow a balloon flight in or out of Kensington Park. "It's really a shame," said Lorenz, "I am donating my time and flight to help out the event and promote Kensington Park and they thwarted the effort due to some red tape. It's ironic too because both Island Lake State Park and Camp Dearborn allow flights from their grounds," says Lorenz, "They need to re-think their policy," adds Lorenz, "we're clearly a benefit to the park system and not a problem."
What's the best time to go? Hot air balloons fly in Michigan May thru October. Lorenz says "springtime is nice, but summer's pretty cool too and you can't beat the fall colors in October!"
Most balloon rides last about one hour and Lorenz flies over the woods and streams of Kensington Park. He and several other pilot friends meet at Park 'n Ride area off Milford Road and I-96 (exit # 155) about 2 1/2 hours before sunset. From there he'll launch helium balloons, determine the wind direction, then take a short drive to one of nine launch sites in the area that give the best views and best landing sites downwind.
"Sometimes the landing can be like taking an elevator ride and others can be a little more exciting that's why great care is taken in making the 'go' or 'no-go' decision on each flight based upon the weather," says Lorenz."
What to wear? Lorenz suggests passengers wear tennis shoes and jeans. He says the air temp "upstairs" is within a couple degrees of ground temp so it's not a factor. Cameras and video cameras are highly recommended to preserve the once in a lifetime moments while flying over the countryside.
Flights cost $695 for a private ride which is two passengers and the pilot. All flights are pre-paid. Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover and PayPal are accepted. Gift certificates are available.
To really appreciate all that Michigan has to offer, call a balloonist and schedule a flight today, because if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you … the view is better from above.
To Schedule a Flight contact:
Westwind Balloon Company- Plymouth, Michigan, Flying over Kensington Park, Brighton, South Lyon and Milford. 734-667-2098 http://www.PureMichiganBalloon.com Scott Lorenz, Pilot and Owner.
About Scott Lorenz
Scott Lorenz, a commercial balloon pilot since 1982, has logged 1,550 + hours in-flight.
He has flown over Niagara Falls, The Great Wall of China, Disney World, the Olympics, Austria,
Japan, Spain, Red Rock Canyon NM. He co-piloted a Guinness World Record flight to 19,000' and a 20 hour-Gas Balloon flight from MI to KY. Westwind has been featured by FOX-2 Detroit, WDIV, WJR, The Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press to name a few and was named "most creative date" by It's Just Lunch. In 2012 Westwind was name one of America's Most Romantic companies for the balloon engagement flights. Scott's Westwind Balloon Company offers unforgettable rides over Michigan's breathtaking countryside. Balloon rides make terrific gifts!!