Although many people are on the move this summer travelling far and wide there are a number of Michiganders who are staying put in what is termed a "StayCation." "There are plenty of cool things to do in South East Michigan without having to leave for an extended trip. I meet many campers every year who spend a week at Camp Dearborn and tie a hot air balloon flight into their stay," says Scott Lorenz, President and Chief Pilot of Westwind Balloon Company of Plymouth, Michigan. http://www.westwindcos.com/balloon
"With the price of gas and the economy in its current state, people continue to rediscover the fun stuff to do near their homes." says Lorenz. Why drive 4 hours when you can enjoy the nearby parks with lakes and streams and wildlife right here in Oakland County.
"Passengers love taking photos from the balloon especially when we fly over Island Lake State Park it's fabulous, it's ten times better than people imagine. I flew a couple who said they decided to stay home, get a baby sitter and go flying with me over Island Lake. They had canoed the park's Huron River and had picnic in one of the dozens of cozy picnic areas. They just enjoyed each other's company and the entire park. And they were 15 minutes from home if they had to check in on the kids.
Most balloon rides last about one hour and Lorenz flies over the woods and streams of Island Lake and Kensington Parks. 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.
According to Lorenz, "On just about every flight we see white tail deer, dozens of birds including The Great Blue Heron, Swans, Sand Hill Cranes, Red Tail Hawks and many others. This past summer we flew straight over the nests of the Osprey being introduced back into Kensington Park."
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. All flights are non-refundable. "If we get bad weather we just reschedule the flight," says Lorenz.
To schedule a StayCation Balloon ride, call Westwind Balloon Company of Plymouth, Mchigan, Flying over Kensington Park, Island Lake State Park, Brighton, South Lyon and Milford. 734-667-2098 http://www.westwindcos.com/balloon 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!!