By Patrick Finnegan
Director, Integritas Project
I knew I wanted to shoot a hot air balloon over the great American landscape for the spot. I wanted one that was designed as an American flag. When at last we found it, how stunningly beautiful it was!
Tim, my host and the owner and pilot of the hot air balloon was excited about the Integritas Project and that this sport he loved and balloon he had designed would be featured in it. In the early 70's Tim had been accepted to the Naval Academy. In that same year, he qualified for the US Olympic team in wrestling. In a painful decision, he chose to represent his country on the Olympic stage, a dream that was dashed when our country boycotted the Olympics in protest.
But Tim never lost his passion nor his patriotism. Years later, when he met the woman who would one day become his wife, he took her on a date in a hot air balloon. From that moment, a part of Tim never left the sky.
He and his wife were married in a hot air balloon and to this day travel to balloon fiestas together all over the country to enjoy their sport. When it came time for Tim to have his own balloon he knew just the symbol he wanted to design into it...Old Glory itself.
As the balloon began to fill he gestured to me to follow him inside the balloon. I took my camera and just as the dawn light began to reveal the silhouettes of some of the thousands of people gathered outside for the launch I began to roll...