WILTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A local military veteran and former hot air balloon pilot had one wish: to take one last hot air balloon ride. His wish was granted thanks to some local businesses.

Brian Owen, 80, said the best way to live is exactly like the best way to pilot a hot air balloon.

“You get up there in the air, and it’s the rules of common sense,” he said. “It’s freeing.”

“It’s symbolic in a way, you know,” hospice nurse Kate Edgerly said. “It’s freeing. It’s just like the end of our life should be.”

Edgerly is Owen’s hospice nurse. The Air Force veteran and former balloon pilot suffers from a heart condition. Flying a hot air balloon one last time was on his bucket list.

“Hospice is about how can we live the best life that we possibly can in the time we have left,” Edgerly explained. “He’s just a ray of sunshine. Just every time I see him, he makes me smile and laugh and just makes you want to do whatever you can to make him happy.”

And that’s what she did. With the help of local businesses, she and her team sponsored the final flight of Owens dreams with Adirondack Balloon Flights by Sunkiss Ballooning.

“It’s amazing how the community and organizations have come together to do this for him,” Brooke Owen said. “There was no way I was going to miss this.”

Brooke said his father’s ballooning journey began in 1979. For 25 years, his parents flew all over the world together in balloons.

“We flew our fannies off,” Brian recalled.
“Why’d you stop?” NEWS10’s Noel McLaren asked.
“Life caught up with me.”

“I said, ‘I don’t know if I’m physically able to do it,'” Brian said on the day of his final balloon ride. “My legs don’t bend like they used to.”

But with a little boost and a lot of love and excitement, Brian got his wish.