Stephen Moss has a thing for fire. Before becoming a pilot, he served his community as a fireman. While his previous career had him rushing to put out fires, his latest passion is fueled by it — ballooning.
In the ten years since joining Endeavor, he’s taken on a different kind of flying that sparked a flame inside of him — literally. Moss is the proud owner of a hot air balloon, and as his experience with this rudimentary flying vessel grows, his affinity for hovering above the horizon has grown as well.
“Ballooning is truly the most enjoyable type of flying you can do,” Moss said. “This is truly man’s first type of flying. It’s a complete night and day [experience] versus what we do here at Endeavor; instead of going against the wind to power our flight, we go with it.”
The first documented manned balloon flight dates back to 1783, when Josef and Etienne Montgolfier carried a bevy of barn animals in their balloon. Since then, ballooning technology has expanded to allow for greater payloads, greater altitude, and greater distances. In 2012, daredevil Felix Baumgartner rode a balloon to 128,100 feet above the earth for a freefall jump. Moss doesn’t take his balloon even a tenth of that height, but he does find that “escaping the surly bonds of earth,” as poet John Gillespie Magee, Jr., famously wrote, gives him an unprecedented perspective of his reality.
“Ballooning takes me back to my early piloting days,” Moss admitted. “Alone by yourself, flying at dawn or dusk, overlooking the trees and fields, it’s very peaceful and very romantic.”
Indeed, Moss admits that his crew chief is usually his wife, Chelsea, who is responsible for sending him aloft and helping to recover the balloon once he lands—wherever that might be. Together, the two have enjoyed the ride since making their investment in the yellow, green and red 77,000 cubic foot balloon.
“Our first flight in the balloon was together,” Moss added. “I would encourage everyone to go on a ride to see if ballooning is for you. It’s enjoyable, and once you try it I believe you’ll want to do it again and again.”
Curious about getting into ballooning? Check out the Balloon Federation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to the art, sport and science of ballooning. The BFA aims to expand awareness and educate the next generation of balloon pilots. Learn more at http://www.BFA.net.