Josh Branson


International Balloon Safaris

The catalyst for this recent excursion to Italy can be directly credited to this dynamic duo, Jerry and Cindy Rainwater of International Accents Travel and International Balloon Safaris, based out of Knoxville, TN.

This past winter Jerry and Cindy asked if Amber and I would be interested in crewing for them at the Sagrantino Winemaker’s Balloon Cup in Central Italy. I think it goes without saying, that when someone proposes this scenario to you, the answer is quite simple, you say yes.

So, the months passed by and preparations were made, we would fly into Rome separately and rejoin them in the town of Grutti, which sits about two hours from the coast. Each morning we would awake before the sun, grab our gear, and make our way to the field; a short drive through the Italian countryside. Upon arriving at the launch point, the plan was simple, consume as many croissants and cafe Americano’s as possible before unloading propane tanks, the basket, balloon, and other essential items from the van that would be needed to achieve flight.

On this day, Jerry masterfully assumed piloting duties for our balloon flight across the golden Umbrian landscape. We had gotten there somewhat earlier than most other teams, quickly assembled the balloon, and lifted off before most everyone else. Following the layered wind patterns, Jerry read the terrain, and fired the burners that sent us high into the atmosphere. Up we went until our views were limitless in all directions, mountains to the east, ancient hill top towns to the west, it was a once in a lifetime experience for me and so to Jerry and Cindy Rainwater, I say thank you, I am forever grateful.

Moreover, I am compelled to also say, that I couldn’t begin to list the extensive number of accomplishments, travels, and shared well-spring of knowledge between these fine folks or thank them enough for the countless generosities they’ve given me, in the almost 10 years I’ve come to know them. If you have interests in travel and need assistance in planning your adventures I’d encourage you to contact them at International Accents Travel, they’ll be with you all the way.