Recently I had the extraordinary privilege of spending the day with Michael Glen of Tucson, Arizona the world’s first paraplegic hot air balloon pilot, for a multimedia story for the New York Times. Glen is an amazing guy; he is down to earth, inspirational and has an extremely cute Boston Terrier I might add! Glen, who was paralyzed in a car accident at age 21, grew up in a family of hot air balloonists, his father is a hot air balloon pilot and so is his brother. It was only natural he followed his passion and life long dream of becoming a hot air balloon pilot himself. Glen is also an Ambassador for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and is a motivational speaker.
In documenting Glen’s passion I was able to fulfill a dream of mine in the process. I have always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon and on a couple occasions I almost went up but the weather would be uncooperative at the last minute. The experience was wonderful. The balloon simply starts to float away from the earth, it is a quiet and soothing feeling. I knew I was in knowledgeable capable hands all I had to worry about was taking photos. One thing to say about Glen is that besides being an inspiration he is also a pioneer. His hot air balloon has a special seat, unlike a traditional hot air balloon basket his balloon is outfitted with a seat much like a ski chairlift that makes it easier for him to get in and out of.
This is why I love my job!