Daniel Davignon piloted his balloon DD Balloon on Sunday while I was his euphoric passenger. I met Daniel's wife and three daughters before and after the flight. His family is a major component of his chase crew (the vans that pursue the hot air balloons while they're in the air and then pickup the balloon and the balloon's passengers).
Actually, Daniel's joy of hot air ballooning has rubbed off on his family. During various festivals throughout the year they all work and play together. One of his daughters is in training to become one of a handful of women pilots in Quebec; I guess the balloon bug is incredibly over-powering.
All hot air balloon pilots have a particular glimmer of joy in their eyes. Daniel is no different, it is overtly evident that Daniel lives to fly. He has flown in over 40 different balloons and has logged over 780 hours in the air. Daniel does not speak English and my French language skills are at best mediocre, we over-came our language barrier probably due in part to our common joy of ballooning. Daniel made this flight especially enjoyable because of his knowledge of the local terrain, his years of experience and his high-spirited demeanor.
Davignon's pre-flight instructions were very insightful and educational. During the flight he often remarked about specific aspects of the ride, such as reflections from nearby lakes and rivers, certain balloons and the ever changing sky-scape. Daniel added his own personality to this fantastic flight.
Once we landed, Daniel pulled out the Apple Cider (a regional sparkling wine) which symbolized the champagne used in the 1700's by balloon pilots to appease the French farmers. We were then Christened with the "bubbly" and felt even closer to the Davignon "clan." The flight with Daniel was magnificent and one I will never forget. I am even considering hiring him for a flight in the fall. Davignon charges $200 per person, this may seem steep, however, the operating costs are extremely high for a pilot and this is not a profit making venture for Davignon, but rather a way for him to take to the skies for yet another flight.
Daniel Davignon reservations year round
St-Jean-sur-Richelieu International Balloon Festival
August 12-20, 2006