Local couple gets a surprise of a lifetime, after years of disappointment
Stephanie Graham, Jonah Kaplan
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
SHEBOYGAN - It's always been Amy Heyman's dream to take flight in a hot air balloon.
"It's kinda on my bucket list," she says.
At her retirement party in 2007, her friends and co-workers bought her a ticket to ride, with A Great American Balloon Company. Amy bought another ticket for her partner Ted, but when they actually tried to take a scheduled ride, it wouldn't happen.
"It would be canceled. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason," Ted says. Amy adds, "The excuse was always the weather."
Canceled: 33 times over 5 years!
"It got to be a really bad joke," Ted exclaims.
But not a new one. Former I-Team Investigator Aaron Diamant first introduced you to A Great American Balloon Company in 2010. Customers claimed the business was not delivering.
Amy admits, it got embarrassing when friends would ask her about her ride.
"The people that gave me the gift feel so bad about it," she sighs.
When Amy tried to schedule her most recent ride-- she was in for a shock. The company went bankrupt.
"So we're probably in the hole for the experience," Ted says.
We reached out to the company that is handling A Great American Balloon Company's bankruptcy, 'Moglia Advisors'. It couldn't say much.
Jonah Kaplan: "What made them such a failure?"
Alex Moglia : "They ceased to operate."
Jonah: "Why? How? What did they do wrong?"
Alex: "They had less money to operate than what was needed so they shut down."
Moglia also sent a letter to Amy and Ted. The letter spells it out. When it was all said and done, there was no money left for any customers seeking a refund. Even worse than losing the money, Amy's dream and flight never took off. Until now!
Waukesha-based 'WindDancer Balloon Promotions' heard Amy's story and invited Ted and Amy to board one of its balloons.
With weather always a factor, a flight date was up in the air. However, on a beautiful fall Wisconsin morning, the WindDancer crew blew up a beautiful, multi-colored balloon.
WindDancer Balloon owner Ken Walter is happy to finally make things right for Amy.
Jonah to Ken: "Now, these folks have been waiting 5 years, they've tried 33 times, is it really possible in 5 years there's not one good day of weather?"
Ken response: "No. No, not possible, there's gonna be a good day, you know."
TODAY'S TMJ4 got to be onboard while Amy took the flight she's dreamed of since she was a kid. During the flight at one point Amy said, "I feel like I'm gonna cry any second. This is too cool."
We landed after about an hour. A balloon ride 5 years overdue, and Amy's ready for more. "Let's do it again!" she laughs.
If you're looking to buy a hot air balloon ride, Ken suggests always going with a local company, and talking to the actual pilot on the phone.
As for A Great American Balloon Company, the Illinois Attorney General's Office confirms it is investigating the company, to see if anything more can be done for the customers.