On Thursday, I had a chance to experience something that not many people get to during the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic and got some very cool photos! 

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

While most of the Treasure Valley watched the hot air balloons from the field at Ann Morrison Park, their cars on the connector or their office building, we were flying high in the Dee III Flag Balloon! Piloted by Tim Taylor, with the help of his crew chief and wife, Daren and the rest of their crew, it's one of the most photographed hot air balloons in the world and definitely stands out amongst the other patriotic balloons you see at the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic!

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

While we were up in the sky, Tim told us the story of how he got in to ballooning.  He wanted to fly planes in the military for as long as he could remember but wasn't able to pass the vision tests required to pilot military aircrafts. When Daren asked him if he wanted to get married in a hot air balloon, he said "It flies? I'm in!" Their wedding was his first balloon flight and he loved it so much that he ended up buying the balloon they got married in.  That's when he started to learn how to pilot hot air balloons.  29 years later, the Taylors have done over 4,000 hours of flying and Tim's one of the few pilots actually certified to fly in the dark.  At other festivals around the country, he's part of the elite group called the "Dawn Patrol" that leave the balloon field before legal sunrise.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

In the spirit of their love story, the Dee III balloon (named after Daren) has been the site of several engagements including Tim's best friend and crew member, Brad.  Before the Steamboat Springs Balloon Rodeo in July, Brad never got to fly with his girlfriend.  Tim took them up and over a lake where he popped the question and she said yes!  It was awesome to hear that story and Tim's other adventures in ballooning.  (Like the time he scared his mom by sitting on the side of and leaning out of the basket while in flight.  After that day, he's worn a harness at her request.)

Here's some the photos I caught of the crew setting up the balloon and while we were in flight! There's some cool video coming soon!