The Hot-Air Balloon Ride Experience

A hot air balloon ride is both a serene and exhilarating experience that offers a unique perspective of the world from above. We’ll walk you through a typical ride experience here (or you can watch this video), but keep in mind that every balloon ride is special, because no two flights are ever the same. On any given flight, there will be a unique selection of events. Some of these “moments” are sensations that simply cannot be put into words–and even pictures cannot do justice.

You may come to check something off the bucket list, but we’ll send you off with memories to last a lifetime!

As you arrive at the launch site, you’re greeted by the sight of massive, colorful balloons lying on the ground, soon to be billowing gently as they are filled with hot air. The pilot and crew are busy preparing for the flight, ensuring everything is in order and safe for takeoff.

Balloons at launch site prepared for inflation

After checking in, you will receive a pre-flight briefing from your pilot. He or she will give you an overview of the flight, some safety guidelines, and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Once the balloon is inflated and standing upright, it’s time to climb into the basket. Most baskets can accommodate several passengers, along with the pilot who will guide the journey. As you step inside, you feel a sense of excitement and anticipation building.

Once everyone is aboard, the pilot uses the burners to heat the balloon to buoyancy causing it to slowly lift off the ground. You feel a slight sway as the balloon begins to ascend, but it’s remarkably smooth and peaceful. As you rise higher into the sky, the world below starts to shrink, and you’re treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the landscape unfolding beneath you.

The sensation of floating weightlessly is surreal, as if you’re suspended in mid-air with nothing but the wind to guide you. The only sound is the occasional blast of the burner as the pilot maintains or adjusts the altitude.

Depending on the time of day, you might witness the sun rising or setting, casting a warm glow across the horizon. The colors of the sky shift and change, painting a stunning canvas of oranges, pinks, and purples.

As you drift along, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe at the beauty of the world below. From above, even familiar landmarks take on a new perspective, and you gain a newfound appreciation for the vastness and diversity of the landscape.

After a leisurely flight of approximately an hour, the pilot begins to prepare for landing, scouting for a suitable spot to touch down. As you descend gracefully towards the ground, the crew in the chase vehicle below tracks your progress and prepares to assist with the landing.

With a gentle bump (or occasionally, some adventurous bouncing, depending on the wind speed!) the basket makes contact with the earth, and the balloon slowly deflates as the adventure comes to an end. As you step out of the basket, you’re filled with a sense of wonder and gratitude for the incredible experience you’ve just had—a hot air balloon ride that will remain etched in your memory for years to come.

It is traditional for each flight to conclude with a toast that includes the pilot, crew and passengers. Since you have drifted with the wind away from your original launch site, the crew will provide a ride back to your starting point.

For a great sample of what a balloon ride is like, we love this fantastic video compiled by two passengers who flew near Ithaca, NY. Our thanks to Jonathan and Suki Hall for sharing their special experience with us!