Up, up and away... someday

By Chuck Kajer

You want it to be windy and rainy some day in the future? I can guarantee the weather on almost any day.

All it takes is for me to make a phone call to Stillwater Balloons and schedule a balloon ride for my wife and me.

Four years ago this fall, for Jenny’s 40th birthday, we booked a flight on Stillwater Balloons, overlooking the St. Croix Valley. That was something Jenny had always wanted to do, and a friend of ours had recently enjoyed a balloon trip, so that was her birthday present.

The weekend weather was pleasant, so we thought nothing of it when calling to confirm that the balloon would be sailing on that afternoon, September 8, 2001. Just three days earlier, we had even seen the balloons in flight. Josh had a freshman football game at Mahtomedi High School, just 10 miles from Stillwater, and as we looked to the east during the game, we saw a couple of balloons in flight.

But on September 8, the balloons didn’t fly. Seems it was too windy. Balloons don’t fly if winds are 10 miles per hour or more.

So we rescheduled for later that year. Again, the weather didn’t cooperate. We had a year to use the certificates, so we tucked them away and waited until spring to use them.

Four times over the next summer, we scheduled and were cancelled. One time, we couldn’t figure out why it was cancelled. We were already driving to the area, and the weather was seemingly perfect. We stopped at a mall in Woodbury to do some shopping, and within an hour, we discovered why, as a severe thundestorm hit the area. We learned that as long as we kept booking flights, the certificates remained good

So, we got through 2002 without a flight. In 2003, it was more of the same. We’d schedule a flight, and call two hours in advance, only to learn the flight had been cancelled due to “unfavorable weather.”

We were beginning to suspect it was just a scam, that they had taken our money, given us the certificates and never really flew. 2004 brought more bookings, and again more cancellations. Last spring, we tried going earlier, booking a March trip, as soon as hockey season ended.

No dice.

It seems that no matter when we book a flight, it is guaranteed to bring wind, rain, or some other kind of “unfavorable” weather.

We even joke about it when we call. We’ve booked at least 12 times (we never really kept an official count) and when we call, we ask them what day they want to have off, and we’ll book our flight that day. They reassured us that we would get our flight in, and said while 12 cancellations isn’t their norm, there have been people who have had more.

We’ve tried three more times this year, the most recent being last Thursday. We no longer try to make a day of it, going out to eat, going shopping, we just want to get done with it. I called from work at about 2:15 to see if the flight was going. It wasn’t. I called Jenny, and told her, and she just said “OK, we’ll see you at home.

So, if anyone wants a guaranteed day of rain or wind, just let me know. I can arrange it.

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