It was a chance I wasn't going to turn down - I'd had my first balloon flight many years ago, in a mass ascent over Bristol at the city's famous balloon festival. Since then, I'd remember the sense of incredible calm and silence as we drifted over the city, the sun falling behind the downs as we slowly floated east.
Lifting off from a field behind Disney's Celebration, we flew out over the swamps, over ancient cypresses, watching flocks of herons fly out for the days fishing. An osprey sat on its nest, while cardinals flashed red feathers from tree to tree. As the sun rose, it left traces of light and shadow ion the low-lying swamp mists, silhouetting the balloons that accompanied us across the sky.
The green forests spread below us, deep, dark, and silent. We passed over housing tracts, surprising families on dawn swims, and watched the light gild the edges of the theme parks. In the distance the sea glimmered silver, ready for the day. Finally we settled, ready to fold the balloon and head off for the waiting day.
An excellent experience, and a hearty recommendation for Jeff Thompson and his ground crew.