Bill Howes | Romantic Rides Over Red Rock

From 1,000 feet above the ground, Southern Utah takes on a different perspective. It’s one Bill Howes has fallen in love with.

“Everything looks planned from the air,” said Bill. “Everything looks neat and tidy. It looks like everything is put together in perfection.”

Howes is the owner of Palledin Balloon Excursions. He spends close to 100 hours a year flying in his hot air balloon. It’s a hobby he sort of fell into, but says the intrigue has always been there.

“I was about 10,” said Bill. “There was a show called ‘Mr. Wizard.’ He built hot air balloons on his show one time. I built one and went down to the baseball diamond and launched it off. The fire marshal found me. He was a little worried about my hot air balloon.”

Every flight is a unique experience; it’s also a gamble with the weather. Bill spends hours preparing by tracking the weather patterns. He can be seen at his launch pad filling up helium balloons and letting them go, closely watching where they go and how fast.  Bill said it’s really up to Mother Nature whether he gets to enjoy the skies that day. He equates it to a chess match.

“The best that I can hope for is a draw,” said Bill. “I don’t ever win, but I don’t lose either.”

While science is a large part of flying a hot air balloon, it mostly comes down to feeling the air.

“By the time the instruments register, it’s already happened,” said Bill.

Even though each flight is a gamble, it’s one Bill is willing to take. Not just for himself, but the community. He says a hot air balloon adds something unique to a city.

“The balloon adds romance and charm to the city,” said Bill. “I think every city should have at least one balloon.”

Bill lived in Southern California until he relocated to St. George in the 1990s, but he says there’s no other place he’d rather fly.

“We have this beautiful 10,000 foot mountain to the north of us, Pine Mountain,” said Bill. “And from a couple of thousand feet above this basin you can see all the way to Mount Trumbull, which is 70 miles from here in the Grand Canyon. I don’t think there’s another place in the country where they fly balloons that you have that kind of visibility. “