Farm Science Review hot air balloon


I’ve always said I will try almost anything once.

So when my editor, Susan Crowell, called Tuesday on the way to Farm Science Review and asked if I would want to go up in a hot air balloon ride, courtesy of the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, of course I didn’t give it a second thought. What a cool opportunity!

Kristy looking inside the basket.

All day long, I was excited about this chance. After all, going up in a hot air balloon ride was on my list of things to try once! I could hardly wait. I walked over to the area, we jumped into the Touchstone Energy balloon van and traveled to the lift-off area.

I’m still in awe. This can’t be really happening?

We unloaded the basket and the envelope that contains the balloon, the property of the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Dave Champion served as the pilot and our crew consisted of Joel Valley, RJ Monnier, Sean Luellen and Al Rinehart.

What a great team of gentlemen!

We started unfolding the balloon, and as I looked up into the beautiful blue sky, all I could think was that I was headed in that direction!

Then Champion pulled out a large fan and started blowing air into the balloon portion. Before I knew it, the balloon was filling with air and within a couple of minutes, it was standing straight up toward the sky and it was time to climb in the basket.

First, Champion climbed in and got it situated. He was telling the crew how to hold on to it to keep it on the ground and what ropes to keep weight on.

Then I climbed in. And finally, RJ Monnier climbed in, and we were given some brief landing instructions.

Farm Science Review hot air balloon

I’m not going to lie, I had to take a deep breath, because for a second I considered whether it was good idea to be in a hot air balloon just a week from my wedding!

But I thought to myself, why not? This chance might not come again!

Champion told RJ and I that if we were going to have a hard landing, there were some safety instructions to consider. This meant that if we landed at more than 10 mph, we had to be alert even if gravity wasn’t on our side!

The instructions included making sure your knees are bent when we hit the ground and at all times keep your arms inside the basket and, as we were landing, to hold onto the handles inside the basket. Champion said if our arms were outside of the basket, it could drag sideways on the ground and the result would be broken arms!

I had a vision, me in a wedding dress with a cast! Not a good look!

Luckily, I kept my cool and stayed in the basket!

And instead of a broken arm, I had the best sight seeing experience!

The massive equipment that lines the Farm Science Review was not as large from the air! Instead, I would describe it as matchbox size! It reminded me of the toys I used to play farm with!

Then we drifted across the I-70 highway (I did take a deep breath as we crossed the roadway above the semi-trucks!). I couldn’t stop waving as the semi-trucks blew horns as we floated on top of them.

Then we crossed a corn and a soybean field and began the descent.

As my nerves got a little edgy about the landing, Champion kept calm. After all, he has flown hot air balloons for over 800 hours in 12 years.

When we touched ground, the balloon was moving at 6.75 mph. It meant a much softer landing! And I can report, there are no broken bones.

Thank you, to Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, for the opportunity! It was once in a lifetime!


Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses with her husband, Kurt. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism.
Kristy Foster Seachrist
View all posts by Kristy Foster Seachrist

Related posts: