When Anil Jacob
new career he
e-mailed a photo of the view from his
office to friends and colleagues.
It was a view of U.S. 280 from the basket of his
hot air balloon.
"I wrote, 'Wanna bet the view from my office is better than the view from your office?'" said Jacob
, 37. Jacob is the owner of Air Alabama, a commercial hot air balloon company offering flights, advertisements and even balloon pilot training.
A former financial adviser and stockbroker, the Birmingham resident decided to turn his
love for ballooning into a business after a friend took him for a flight. "I wanted to get out from behind the desk and do something exciting," said Jacob, who worked in the financial services industry for 17 years.
"I've actually had a fascination with hot air balloons all my life." So Jacob trained in Park City, Utah, to become a balloon pilot, receiving certifications for commercial and private pilot's licenses.He
invested about $40,000 in his
balloon, starting his
business only three weeks ago. Jacob
business should be unique to Birmingham since the only other balloon services are in areas such as Huntsville, Montgomery and Gulf Shores. He
offers passenger flights for $200 per passenger.The experience is also unique, he
"It's peaceful," he
Lee Conn, who took Jacob
on his first balloon flight, said Jacob
has the profession in his blood.
has about five areas around the city where he
balloon.Since hot air balloons travel with the winds, a pilot rarely has a predetermined landing location.It's usually a matter of picking the best spot to land the balloon, Jacob
A "chase crew" usually travels along nearby roads to pick up the balloon and its crew once it lands.
"I've put balloons down in people's driveways," Jacob
It's not unusual for people to invite him and his
crew in for breakfast or simply thank him for putting the balloon down in their driveway so they can get a closer look at it, he
"They're very intrigued by them," he