April 1st

By Gary Vacin, Publicity Director


          Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) members and visitors who attend the clubís April 19th meeting will have a chance to win a free balloon ride, courtesy of Hot Air Expeditions. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with coffee and fellowship, followed at 7 p.m. by a presentation by Mike England, who will describe his experiences as a professional balloon pilot.


           Persons attending the meeting will receive a free raffle ticket.  A drawing will be held immediately after Englandís presentation, and the winner will receive a free hour-long balloon trip (a $175 value). The company offers morning or evening rides, followed by a champagne breakfast or dinner.


          A native of Illinois, England began flying balloons as a hobby in 1979.  He moved to Arizona in 1994 and began flying professionally, compiling thousands of hours as pilot in command.  He was Arizona state champion in 2001.  


          This writer personally experienced a flight with Hot Air Expeditions in December.  The adventure began at Deer Valley Airport in north Phoenix.  We were transported to a launch site in the Sonoran desert about 20 miles north of the airport. There we received a preflight briefing where we learned more about the hot air balloon and how it flies, plus other interesting facts. Then the balloon was inflated by motorized fans.  Once the envelope was filled with air, the propane burners were ignited to heat the air inside. After the balloon inflated, we joined the pilot in a large wicker basket for the flight.


          On liftoff, we ascended to about 400 feet, where we were able to experience the sights and sounds of desert life and view residential and business developments from above. Then the pilot turned the burners to high and we soared to an altitude of 5,000 feet, giving us a panoramic view of the valley. 


          Following landing in the desert near 1-17 and the Carefree Highway, we were met by the ground crew which deflated and packed the balloon in a trailer for transportation to the next launch site.  Then we were treated to a delicious gourmet breakfast, complete with champagne.      


          Additional information on the Aero Club is available from Bob Walch (480-895-8869) or Al Galvi (480-802-0104 or by visiting the clubís website, www.sunlakesaeroclub.org.  




This could be you.  Attend the Sun Lakes

Aero Club meeting Monday, April 19 for a

chance to win a free balloon ride, courtesy

of Hot Air Expeditions.