Most of us have conquered the sky-in jets, in buildings, in our dreams-but few of us have made peace with it. Lucky are the ones who have traveled with the air as one. Lucky, and eager to take us up where they belong. There are a number of qualified balloonists, parachutists and glider pilots in or near the Dallas area who regularly introduce staunch earthlings to the adventures and escapes of the direction up. When, more than in summer, is your head in the clouds? Consider bringing the rest of you along for the ride.
We can thank the annual Piano Hot-Air Balloon Festival, held in October, for spawning the veritable fleet of multi-colored orbs that float routinely over North Texas. Happily, many of their pilots offer rides. When you’re in a balloon you move exactly with the air, so the only sense of motion you have comes from watching the earth go by. No shakes, no jolts-just the gut feeling that this is the way you were meant to travel.
These three licensed balloon ports offer sunrise and sunset flights. Times, prices and departure points vary. Airventure BalloonPort, 231-7983. Cadillac Balloon Port, 578-8548. Dallas North Balloon Port, 596-2468.
Glider planes take to the sky on the tether of a prop plane, so that once the tether has been disengaged, just after the exhilarating moment of being freed, the passenger becomes most aware of the quiet. It is this intense silence that first defines the glider experience, and then the swirling, bobbing motion of riding on the wings of the wind.
Bald Eagle Soaring. Rides, rentals and instruction. Open Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to sundown at Aero Country Airport, Rock Hill Road, near McKinney, 323-4992 (days), 436-9383 (nights) and 347-2919 (weekends). Rides $25. Spectators admitted free.
North Dallas Gliders. Rides Saturday and Sunday at Hartlee Field, near Denton. Times vary. 424-6431 or (817) 464-7733. Rides $20.
As easy as jumping out of a plane. Aficionados of the sport -and there are more and more all the time-think of it as the only thrill. Skydivers of Texas Inc. custom-designs jump programs for novices as well as the initiated-from $94 for a two-session, first-jump training program up to the $285 accelerated free-fall program. They also offer tandem training, in which the novice jumps with an instructor. Discounts are offered for subsequent jumps. Dallas Skydiving Center, near Lake Lavon. Weekdays 484-1234, weekends 1-736-9440. Spectators free.
Also: Future Flight, Hartlee Field, (817) 565-8421.