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Building Trust over the Tetons

Setting my alarm for 3 am feels too early. But knowing I would soon be in a hot air balloon over the Grand Tetons, I could definitely jump up. For me, the Tetons are a majestic view I will never tire of and for many people, it’s a view they travel thousands of miles to see. So why not see them up close in a hot air balloon?

Teton Balloon Flights gives people this magical experience almost every day, all summer long.  I wanted to highlight this business for our Build a Better Business series not only because hot air ballooning is so cool, but business owner Kevin Morgan really believes in the mission of the BBB and prides himself on being an owner of a trustworthy business.

We, meaning myself and our videographer Mike di Donato, met Kevin and his crew bright and early as the sun was barely lightening the sky. We were both excited and ready to see how a hot air balloon is set up and launched. One thing I didn’t realize was the conditions have to be almost perfect to fly a hot air balloon; even the slightest breeze can scratch the launch of an amazing trip.

That morning there was a slight breeze but I didn’t think much of it since the wind tends to always blow in Idaho. But Kevin informed us that if the wind is 8 mph or above it isn’t safe to fly. Besides watching wind speeds, they also perform a test sending a helium balloon up in the air and watch how it flies to see which direction the wind is moving and if it’s too breezy. So they tested it, and of course our bad luck that balloon flew almost sideways, showing the wind speed was too high.

A little broken-hearted, we attempted to wait the wind out. Meanwhile, Kevin offered to take us to one of his launch sites and show us the process for setting up the balloon and preparing for take-off. We jumped in the van and ended up in a beautiful meadow looking straight at the Teton’s; breathtaking!

Now Kevin isn’t alone, these hot air balloons are very big and take a crew to layout and blow up. His crew immediately got to work setting up the basket, methodically taking the balloon out of its case and laying it just right out on the ground. It is so much more involved than I imagined, and I didn’t realize how delicate the balloon itself is and how careful they must be with it. As the crew moved around quickly each doing their specific job, the balloon began to take shape.

I almost felt like Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz, as they set up the basket and turned on the fire to begin inflating the balloon. It’s such a cool experience to see how this piece of nylon turns into something so majestic. Unfortunately, the winds were against us that day and we weren’t able to fly. However, just watching Kevin and his crew was awesome, and nothing beats watching the sunrise over the Tetons.

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Written by Jeremy Johnson

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