Video: Scenic hot air balloon flight

Flight day started with a rendezvous at the Perkins restaurant off of Exit 68 on I-4.

Tom Green, the owner of Painted Horizons Hot Air Balloon Tour, and his crew corralled us near his vehicle so we could launch a PI-BALL.

The PI-Ball is a helium balloon that is inflated and released by the pilot. The balloon is then tracked for direction and speed which gives the pilot valuable information to determine the best launch site.

Hot air balloons have no means of steering other than the wind, so there are a multitude of launch and landing sites throughout the area. After consulting a map, we were off for a cow pasture near Celebration.

Daylight had not yet broken as the setup began. Once the baskets and balloon were laid out, big gas-powered fans were employed to begin inflating the balloons. It was surprising how quickly they filled and were upright with the help of the burners.

Green took a young couple in his balloon while two other passengers flew with a second pilot. The couple, Joel Mandigo and Ileana Rodriguez of Orlando, were taking their first balloon flight together.

Once the balloons were aloft, we chased from the ground while crew members stayed in contact by radio. As we were nearing the landing site, Green radioed down to announce that we had a "newly engaged couple".

Mandigo had been planning the moment for weeks. Ileana graciously accepted.

After landing, the crew and passengers gathered for a traditional celebration near the landing site. A table was erected and fruit, vegetables, juice, water and champagne were offered.

Champagne is traditionally enjoyed post flight in honor of the history of Hot Air Ballooning. The first manned hot air balloon rides took place in Paris by the Montgolfier brothers. The champagne toast is traditional, as legend has it that early French pilots carried champagne to appease frightened peasants and prove they were nobleman.

To capture the event on camera, I mounted a Go Pro action camera to the sub-frame of Green's balloon. The camera was set to take a picture every two seconds.

This footage, along with others, was combined to create a time-lapse sequence.

I was unaware beforehand of the intended proposal, but was thrilled to have captured the event on camera.

If you are interested in experiencing a flight for yourself, or perhaps are looking for your own special proposal, contact Tom Green at Painted Horizons Hot Air Balloon Tours (

Joshua C. Cruey can be reached at Follow the Sentinel photo staff on Twitter @OSPhoto. Like us on Facebook: Orlando Sentinel Photography.