Alberta father stays connected with late son through passion of flying hot air balloons

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta man stays connected with late son through passion of flying hot air balloons'
Southern Alberta man stays connected with late son through passion of flying hot air balloons
WATCH: It's been more than 20 years since Dale and Dianne Lang lost their son in the Taber school shooting, but Dale's life-long passion for flying hot air balloons is helping him stay connected to Jason. As 2020 continues to be a difficult year, Lang also shares how his hobby continues to be a source of hope. – Sep 16, 2020

More than 20 years later, the memory of Dale and Dianne Lang’s son Jason lives on. Jason’s life was cut short in 1999, when he was shot at his high school in Taber, Alta.

According to the shooter’s lawyer, his then-14-year-old client had nothing to do with Jason and the other teenager who was shot.

The assailant had been the victim of bullying. The Lang family found it in their hearts to forgive him.

Dale, an Anglican minister at the time, became a tireless crusader for nearly a decade against the sort of bullying and school violence that led to the shooting.

Read more: Father of victim of Taber school shooting speaks on La Loche

One of the ways Dale is able to stay close to his son’s spirit is when he’s high above the ground flying in a hot air balloon, a passion he’s had for nearly five decades.

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Click to play video: 'A look back at the shooting in Taber Alberta'
A look back at the shooting in Taber Alberta
“[Jason] was involved in the balloons, like all of my kids were involved with the balloons at the time, it was a pretty difficult situation,” he said

“But I think I’ve always understood ballooning as a spiritual experience. To get above the earth and watch things as you gently float by is pretty amazing,” he said.

Next week Dale will be taking part in the annual Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival in High River, Alta., something he’s done several times before.

The highly anticipated southern Alberta event will be taking place from Sept. 23 to Sept. 27 and this year, close to 20 balloons will be taking to the sky.

Due to the pandemic, several balloon festivals across the country have been cancelled, however this one will still be occurring as restrictions will be implemented in order to keep participants safe.

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However, the official website for the event indicates that with current AHS parametres, it has had to cancel its popular Friday night Balloon Glow.

Read more: ‘I never want to forget them’: Memorial tattoos help people cope with loss, grief

Dale says that through all the curve balls 2020 has thrown people’s way, the balloons are still a great way to remember some of the beauty still in the world.

“These kinds of events are encouraging for folks and so hopefully this will be encouraging that there is normalcy in life and we’re going to have more normal life going forward than we have in this moment in time,” he stated.

Dale, who is also one of only a few hot air balloon pilots in the region, recommends attending the event as he says just witnessing the colourful balloons can have a healing effect on people.

“I’ve always found, even since the beginning of ballooning, that people have said things to me like: ‘I see your balloon flying in the morning. It’s such an uplifting experience, it’s such a fun thing to see,’ and we still get that even in Lethbridge when we do our ride business, people are saying things like that to us.

“Seems like the balloon has a sense of mystery, adventure and hope that people enjoy, so that’s a good thing.”

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Dale and his wife have enjoyed partaking in the experience with their five children as they raised them. It has become even more of a family affair now that their grandchildren can take flight alongside them.

-With files from the Canadian Press

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