Hot-air ballooning: A sightseeing rise like no other

Treasure Coast Newspapers 06/12/2011
Copy Reduced to 51% from original to fit letter page
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Hot-air ballooning: A sightseeing rise like no other
■ Tourists see all,
ocean to ’Glades
By Maria Saavedra
and Kristen Mayoral
South Florida News Service
Looking for a different
kind of South Florida tour?
Try one with a bird’s-eye
view, 10,000 feet up.
Miami Balloon Rides
takes groups of three to
10 passengers on 30- to
60-minute rides from
South Dade.
“We fly in the Redlands,” said owner Mi-
chelle Erickson, 41. “It’s
a beautiful area and you
have a fantastic view of
the ocean, the Everglades
and what is in the southern part of Dade County,
which people don’t even
know exists.”
Erickson said the ballooning experience is a
four-hour process, though
the ride itself takes only 30
to 60 minutes.
At 6 a.m., passengers
meet the Miami Balloon
Rides crew at the Holiday
Inn Express across from
the Kendall-Tamiami
Executive Airport. From
there, they travel about
25 minutes in a company
van to the launch site in
the Redlands, where they
test the wind speed with
a “pibal” or pilot balloon.
This procedure confirms
if the weather conditions
are safe to fly the hot air
balloon. If not, the ride is
postponed.
The crew then begins
to assemble and once arranged, the passengers
quickly board the balloon
and take off.
“Oftentimes, people
think they’re just going to
show up, and they’re just
going to get on the balloon, and the whole thing
is finished. And it’s not like
that,” Erickson said.
After the sightseeing
from above, the balloon
lands in a designated area
near the Everglades. The
crew then packs up the
balloon and customers
hop on the van for their
last stop of the day: Campground at the Everglades,
where they partake in a
toast and a picnic.
Erickson has taken more
than 3,000 passengers since
starting her business in
2004. She has four balloons,
BALLOON OVER MIAMI ...
What: Miami Balloon Rides
When: Seven days a week,
weather permitting
Where: Meeting place is
at the Holiday Inn Express,
13475 S.W. 131st St., Miami
Reservations: Call
Michelle Erickson at 305860-5830 or email [email protected]
miamiballoonrides.com
Price: $225 per passenger
flying in groups. Exclusive
rides (you and your guests
each with a nickname.
“Most people have never even seen a balloon, let
alone been in one,” she
only) $350 per passenger.
$200 for ages 11 to 15; $175
ages 6-10.
Online: www.
miamiballoonrides.com
OR LOCALLY ...
What: Port St. Lucie Hot Air
Balloons
Reservations: 1-800-3359257
Online: www.portstlucie
hotairballoons.com
said. “It’s an experience
that a lot of people are
looking for on their bucket
list.”
Puzzle Answers
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June 12, 2011 1:00 pm / Powered by TECNAVIA