Friday, December 8, 2023


Have you ever flown in a hot air balloon?

By Chuck Woodbury
I’ve flown twice in a hot air balloon: the first time in Northern California’s Sierra foothills and the second time in Cappadocia, Turkey. Both were spectacular experiences.

The photo below is of two balloons flying over Cappadocia, where a “must” for tourists is to fly in a balloon in the early morning and then shop for a Turkish carpet later. At daybreak, dozens of balloons rise into the sky at once. It’s a beautiful sight. For most passengers, the flight is cheap compared to the cost later of a carpet.

The one thing about flying in a hot air balloon that’s different from any other type of flying is that you are always moving at the speed of the wind. So there is never any wind in your face.

It’s perfectly quiet except for the sound of the infrequent release of propane and the flame that heats the balloon to keep it aloft. On my California flight, you could watch and hear dogs below bark as you passed. People came out of their homes and waved. We flew very low, so you could talk back and forth.

Balloon flights are offered all over North America, especially in popular tourist areas. Have you ever flown in one? Do you plan to?

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Michele D (@guest_145901)
2 years ago

Yes,I have been up in a balloon and the experience was awesome! My husband surprised me on our 15th wedding anniversary and took me to Albuquerque NM. On the first ascension of the first day we were number 6 in the air! What a spectacular view watching the remaining balloons take off! Now that we just bought our retirement RV at the Hershey show last month, one of our trips will be to stay right on the grounds of the balloon fiesta. Would I recommend it? Absolutely, as my husband is afraid of flying and he said he go back up in a heartbeat.

Einar Hansen (@guest_116848)
2 years ago

One year I worked next to a hot air balloon club take off area on the weekends one summer, outside of Framingham, Conn. One day after work I walked over to check it out. and I got a free ride just for helping out with one of the launches! After that I was hooked! So I would help out after work on the weekends, if they were going to fly? it was weather permitting sometimes. I would help with launches or on chase teams, and got many free rides just for helping out. Then after I got married my wife and I went to Sedona, Az. just to fly around the red rocks for one of our anniversaries. We both love it and when traveling we always look for places to take balloon rides. Someday Albuquerque for sure!

Last edited 2 years ago by Einar Hansen
Dan (@guest_116157)
2 years ago

In 1987 at the Bass Master Classic Bass in Louisville, KY, Bass Pro Shops had a balloon there. I helped to put it together in the dark and at daylight we were off. It was amazing the wind took us over the Ohio river just as the fishermen blasted off in 40 identical fishing boats, the pilot dropped down within a few hundred feet of them, what a beautiful sight in the early morning waving to the fishermen. We landed in a soybean field in southern Indiana behind a very nice subdivision. The pilot gave me a two way radio to go find out where we were, and to call the chase crew to come and get us. I walked between two beautiful brick homes to find two neighbor ladies talking in their front yards. I will never forget the look on their faces as I told them that we had just landed a hot air balloon behind their homes. If cell phones were around in those days, I would still be locked up in the loony bin.

Bob Weinfurt (@guest_116149)
2 years ago

There’s an annual hot air balloon festival near me. The rides are just too expensive for me.

Einar Hansen (@guest_116849)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob Weinfurt

Do what I did. Offer to help out, sometimes they will be more than happy to give you a free ride the next day, for helping the day before. 😉

Rich (@guest_116146)
2 years ago

i’m an inactive fixed wing light sport pilot and would love to go up in a hot air balloon. my wife….not so much.

Butch Andernacht (@guest_116144)
2 years ago

My wife bought me a ride for my 65th birthday. Five skydivers went with us. Two of them jumped out at 2500 ft and the other three jumped out at 5000 ft. That was a bonus for us because hot air balloons don’t usually go to that altitude. It was great.

Mike (@guest_116141)
2 years ago

Lots of times. I live in Albuquerque and crew for 5 different balloons/pilots. Travel to many different rally’s (most in New Mexico) around the southwest. Great use of my trailer,

CAREN KELLY (@guest_116503)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike

So Cool, we plan to be in Albuquerque area in November 2021, hopefully we will see the hot air balloons. A balloon ride is on my bucket list, so it might be the perfect time.

Mike (@guest_116606)
2 years ago

Pay ride balloons try to fly everyday (weather dependent). Most other pilots fly weekends (all is weather dependent).

MrDisaster (@guest_116133)
2 years ago

We lived 40 years on a small lake in east King county. The balloons launched north of us and dipped (if they could) in the lake. Several times they barely made it past the house. Landing was supposed to be in a school 1/2 mile away. The best time was when our daughter was little and one landed in the cul-de-sac in front of our house. The pilot let her climb into the basket! Still on my bucket list!

Steve from Alaska (@guest_116078)
2 years ago

Our oldest son and his wife live in Albuquerque and have their own balloons and both fly most of the year. They have invited us many times over the years to come and enjoy the Balloon Fiesta with them and we have taken them up multiple times! While I loved the flights, being afraid of heights presents its own set of issues for me, but we still enjoy it!!! If you haven’t attended, this might be a good year to do so!

Tom (@guest_116071)
2 years ago

Had chance, but had my daughter be the passenger. Have flown in a ultra light and so did my daughter.

Glenda Alexander (@guest_116052)
2 years ago

I have flown once when I lived in Austin. I was there before dawn to watch all the interesting pre-flight preparations in Zilker Park, which is two or three blocks from the RV park where I lived. We flew over the RV park and I was able to get a photo of my RV. The flight ended in a field in south Austin. The post-flight procedures were just as interesting as the pre-flight ones. After we got back to Zilker Park we took part in the traditional ceremony and were given a certificate. I was amazed at how quiet it was when the burners were off. I hope to participate in the Albuquerque festival some day.

Neal Davis (@guest_116041)
2 years ago

Neither my wife nor I has flown in a hot air balloon. I never wish to do so, but she does hope to some day fly in one.

Last edited 2 years ago by Neal Davis
Adorable Deplorable (@guest_116034)
2 years ago

Yes, twice. The thing that impressed me the most regarding the flight was how quiet it was. There was the whoosh sound of the propane creating the hot air but when that stopped it was just so silent as we floated along. I was in Palm Springs and Las Vegas. Both flights were won in a contest. I guess I was just meant to fly. 😉

Marvin (@guest_116029)
2 years ago

My log book shows many hours at the controls of a hot-air balloon. I’ve always said that the two biggest mistakes of my life were, 1.) buying a hot-air ballon and 2.) selling a hot-air balloon.

I got started by attending a local balloon rally, joining chase crews and traveling to rallies around the country. We bought our Firefly AX-7 balloon from our local dealer, and spent many amazing sunrises and sunsets out in the country with great friends and wonderful, accommodating landowners who invited us to land on their property. Just looking at my pilot’s certificate – yes, ballon pilots are federally licensed – brings back many extraordinary memories.

Ultimately, the amount of time necessary to plan flights and maintain the systems put too much of a strain on my one-man business. (A single flight that takes an hour from takeoff to landing, takes all day to plan and put together.)

If you get the chance to fly in a hot-air balloon, do not miss it. You’ll see the world in a new way.

Really (@guest_116027)
2 years ago

Yes, multiple times.

Took my Wife on our first trip for our 10th Anniversary over Lake Tahoe! That was 22 years ago!

Then another time we flew at the Albuquerque Balloon Fest, that was a Hoot!

Everyone should try it at least once!

Ray (@guest_116019)
2 years ago

I got my opportunity by participating in a chase crew for a man who owned a BBQ restaurant chain. Being in a chase crew is fun. I was part of the winning team for the first Hare and Hounds race hosted by a local nautical festival in Austin in the 1980s. The return to the finish line had to be completed by pulling the balloon’s trailer with an antique car. Magical. So was our eventual complimentary ride. You’re drifting with the slight wind so everything is calm and sound coming from the ground is amazingly clear, no need to speak loudly. Dogs run in circles and cattle run to far corners of the field. The ceremony after landing actually comes from the first hot air balloon flight in France. Landing in a farmer’s wheat field, and destroying a little of it in the process, the pilot was prepared. He shared his bottle of champagne with the farmer after a little prayer in thanks for a safe landing. The same tradition carries on to this day.

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray

Very interesting information. Thanks, Ray! Have a great day! 😀 —Diane at

Sink Jaxon (@guest_116011)
2 years ago

I grew up in Albuquerque, where the Balloon Fiesta began in the parking lot at Winrock Mall in the Northeast Heights of the city in the early 70’s. I watched it grow into the International Balloon Fiesta of hundreds of balloons and 800,000 people flood the city to attend. Special shapes rodeoes, night time “Glow-deos” …been many times over the years. Sad to say, not once have I ever flown.

Debbie Jantz (@guest_116010)
2 years ago

Both my husband and I are hot air balloon pilots and owned several before we sold them and started traveling fulltime. Flew for over 20 years and truly enjoyed

Skip (@guest_116000)
2 years ago

Some material, string and a picnic basket nope in this case feet stay on the ground.

Ron T. (@guest_115991)
2 years ago

I got my ride in 1987 by volunteering for a chase crew my first weekend of grad school in Lubbock, TX. My turn was the last of the flight and we were prepared for the “initiation” but the owners let us drink the wine instead of pouring it on us. I still have that bottle signed by the owners & volunteer chase crew.

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