LAKE HAVASU CITY – Flying in a hot air balloon was something Oregon resident Linda Scheyer always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity. Fortunately for Scheyer, her cousin had friends in high places.
Lake Havasu City resident Christine Garrison hadn’t seen Scheyer, her cousin, in 15 years. But the Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair was just the event to draw Scheyer to Havasu for a reunion. Morgan Braden, a friend of Garrison’s and owner of Havasu Balloon Hospital, invited Garrison and her cousin to fly with him Thursday morning.
“It’s been on my ‘bucket list’ for 15 years,” Scheyer said Thursday. “My sister flew in a balloon in Napa, California, and I always wanted to try. Christine called me and asked me if I wanted to go for a ride … it was amazing.”
The flight lasted about 15 minutes, Garrison said, and took them about 800 feet above Havasu, overlooking the lake and other balloons on the horizon.
“It was both of our first times,” Garrison said. “It was so calm, so quiet. It was amazing.”
Scheyer was thrilled with the experience. “I want to do it again,” she said. “And I want to fly in an ultralight plane next. That’s what’s wonderful about Havasu … paddleboarding, boating, ultralights … everything I ever wanted to do is here.”
Braden has been a balloon pilot for 34 years. Although he once flew passengers professionally, he says he now flies because it gives him joy.
“I was self-employed when I lived in Albuquerque,” Braden said. “But I had a friend who owned a balloon. He gave me a ride and that was it – I was hooked. It ended up becoming a family thing for me … (Garrison and her spouse) have been friends of mine for several years, and this morning we got scheduled to fly together. It was the first ride for each of them. They loved it and they’re ready to go again. That’s usually the reaction from most people who do it.”
Braden can be seen in the skies above Havasu this weekend along with dozens of other balloon pilots during the Lake Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair.