Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Birthday Party "Above The Rest" For Dad. Lindsay Showalter throws a party high in the sky!

When your daughter is Lindsay Showalter from Perris Valley Skydiving and she decides to throw you a birthday party, you'd better hang on. With the help of Above the Rest Hot Air Ballooning, Lindsay put together a birthday celebration for her father, Frank, but then bailed out of the party a little early with her friends....literally!  After taking off from a field near the Perris Valley drop zone, Captain Phil piloted our balloon to an altitude of just over 6,000 feet.  Conditions were absolutely perfect and the view spectacular so Lindsay and her friends did what seemed to be the logical thing to do. They jumped out!  It is a very strange feeling watching the people you love jump out of a balloon, but it's exhilarating at the same time.  After watching them all land safely, Captain Phil took the rest of us for a beautiful ride and then landed in a small field right in the middle of a residential area!  We barely felt the basket touch down and before we could even get out of the basket, the chase crew was there securing the balloon. What a ride!

Thanks, Lindsay, for inviting us to go along and share in your dad's 78th birthday celebration.  And thanks also to Above the Rest Hot Air Ballooning.  If you'd like to have one of the most peaceful and freeing experiences of your life, contact Dawn at (951) 334-1689 or at  Oh, and by the way, you don't HAVE to jump out!!!  
Gathering time at the drop zone. It was a crisp and clear
morning; the conditions were perfect!

After meeting up at the Perris Valley drop zone, it was
off to the Winchester take off area just a few miles

That's Phil in the blue shirt, our pilot and captain.

Lindsay's dad, Frank...the birthday boy.

Lindsay took more pictures with her phone than we did
with our cameras!

Some "wild and crazy girls."  Kim, Cassie Hero, daughter
Lindsay and Amanda Burgess.

I guess this kissing thing is some sort of pre flight

They call this a "Prom Picture."

Frank said that all the attention didn't bother him too much.

There aren't many things that are more colorful than
hot air balloons. You don't realize just how big they are
until you're standing next to them.

Captain Phil checking lines during the inflation process. Air
is blown into the balloon using large fans.  Then the propane
burners are lit and the hot air is directed into the balloon
to finish inflation process.

That's Cassie and Lindsay standing between two of the
balloons.  This gives you a better idea of just how big
these things are!

...ready for take off.

Here's the gang that gets to have all the fun.  Left to right,
Cassie, Paul, Lindsay, Nick, "Lil' Kiuh", and Bart.

Nick watching Captain Phil direct the hot air into the
balloon.  Those burners put out a lot of heat!

Here's Dawn, owner of Above the Rest, giving everyone a
"high five" before take off.

The burners are just a couple of feet away so when Captain
Phil "put the coals to 'er", it was pretty warm on the top
of your head! 

"Lift Off!"

It could not have been a more beautiful morning for
flying. It was so crisp and clear that we could see
Catalina Island off in the distance.

The basket holds 10 people and there were 9 of us; 6 had
rigs and cameras so we were pretty cozy.

Check out Nick's camera rig...not his first rodeo!

"Lil' Kiuh and Bark"

You are pretty much at the mercy of the wind as far as
where you're going to go.  The pilot can plan a route to a
 certain degree by being familiar with wind directions in the
areas where they fly frequently, using GPS, and their
instincts.  The road down by the balloon was where
Kim and the gang were going to try and land.

How's this for a camera rig?  Lindsay is one of the best
photographers at Perris.

As I said, it's pretty tight in the basket..but it's even tighter
OUTSIDE the basket on the 12" step.  Here Bart is on the
step while Kim is standing on the edge of the basket
to  make her exit.

And there they go!

As we said, you're never really sure where you are going to
end up so picking out a landing area can be a little
tricky. Fortunately Kim and Bart had jumped in this
area before so they knew where it was safe to land.

Lindsay on the step; Cassie up top....

Captain Phil talking to the ground crew.  They chase the
balloon  as it flies so that they can be in position to secure
it when we land.

A photo op...Frank and Amanda.

There's the chase crew...I don't think we were too hard to

Check it out!  That open field in between all those houses
and streets is where we're going to land.  You gotta'
be kidding me!

We were coming in so low over these houses that we
could talk to the people on that second story balcony.  They
invited us in for bacon and eggs!

Touch down...and there's Dawn and the boys!

Lindsay, her sister and niece came out to meet dad when
we landed.

Captain Phil not only flew the balloon, but he brought
out the birthday cake and led us all in singing
"Happy Birthday."
Happy 78th Birthday, Frank.  We hope it's one you'll
always remember.

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