After piloting T-37s and T-1A Jayhawks for the USAF, Daren Wilde was up in the air about what aeronautical challenge to tackle next.
Owner of Morning Star Balloons in Park City, Wilde is sharing his saga with 11 of us in a wicker gondola attached to a 100-ft tall red balloon filled with 245,000 cubic feet of air.
This aerial trek is the opposite of what we envisioned. In fact, it’s downright therapeutic as you silently float 1,420 feet over verdant valleys, wildlife and estate homes with the Wasatch Mountains as a backdrop.
Wilde explains that since balloons rely on air currents, our landing site is a bit of a variable. But a chase crew follows us below, keeping in contact via 2-way radios.
When we do land, we all begin to work as a crew. Wilde encourages participation, whether it’s rolling out the balloon before lift off or rolling it in after landing. Max capacity is around 75 people using 10 balloons.
“When you’re trying to bring a group of people together, there’s nothing like a little adventure or a situation that needs handling,” says Wilde. “Once they’ve conquered the balloon together, they’ve developed camaraderie. It’s a fun activity that can be shared across all levels of organizational structure.”