The rubber met the road in the early 1970s for Bill Costen. After being drafted by the Buffalo Bills and later being sent to a Buffalo farm team in Hartford, CT, a life-threatening tragedy forced him to put the pads down. The result was a lark that led to the birth of the first African American commercial hot-air balloon pilot in the country.
Balloon Man is about more than a 6’5 ex-jock showing the world how to navigate through the clouds; who weathered the ordeal of his mom passing when he was only 10 years old; who flunked out the University of Nebraska his freshman year and moved across the country with something to prove; who warmed the bench in high school only to be drafted in the pros five years later; who survived numerous twists and turns in his life to avoid becoming another ignominious statistic. It is about flight in every sense of the word.
Told through the eyes of Bill’s award-winning filmmaker daughter, Chantal Potter, Balloon Man is a multi-layered film that displays a story untold, that will prompt a call to your nearest hot air balloon pilot right after it makes you contemplate the meaning of a dream deferred. It is a piece of history that serves as another reminder of the rich tapestry of not only the African American stock, but also humanity.
Balloon Man crystallizes the art of struggle and redemption, while providing an unofficial blueprint for not becoming a victim of circumstance. It is the manifestation for father and daughter, of a dream simultaneously realized. Four decades, thousands of passengers and countless adventures later Bill still has a love for flying, proving that with a bit of faith the sky is the limit.