The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Michael Glen flies at the Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival. He is nicknamed the “Rolling Pilot” and is the world’s first paraplegic hot air balloon pilot. Video produced by Alannah Page. 

Michael Glen is not what you would typically expect in a hot air balloon pilot. He is paraplegic and flies with a modified basket that allows his legs to be exposed while he flies in the sky. 

Glen traveled all the way from Arizona to take part in the Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival, an annual event that attracts participants from all over the world. It is held over a five-day span and includes a night glow where spectators can meet the pilots and watch the balloons light up the night sky.

“It’s a beautiful area and an amazing place to fly plus the community is outstanding,” said Glen.

“You can always come up and talk to us pilots. We’re more than willing to share our sport at any time.”

This year 26 pilots took part in the festival and despite the chilly temperatures, many plan on coming back next year.

“This was slightly higher than last year. I believe we had around 20 [pilots] in 2016,” said Emma Lockyer, communication director for the festival.

“We had a few different balloons and some new pilots attended.”

The festival takes place the last week in September every year in High River and spectators are always welcome. 

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Edited by Amy Simpson | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.