Heading to the southwest and looking for a memorable experience? Consider a ride aboard Phoenix hot air balloons and float up, up, and away as you admire the mountain desert.
It was an early morning start as we headed out for our hot air balloon adventure. We were picked up by a driver from Hot Air Expeditions and whisked away to our balloon launch spot. It was amazing to listen to the driver tell us all about how the company has to test the air currents to find the perfect launch spot. While we were driving they even had to move the launch spot.
Once we arrived the real work began, while we stood around and took photos. The ground team removes the balloon and basket from the back of a truck and starts to put it together. The balloon gets laid out and unfolded, then they blow air into the balloon. Eventually, the balloon is filled with the hot air and starts to lift upwards.
At one point the captain will shout that it’s time to hop on board and each person goes to their pre-assigned basket spot. Here’s something I had not known about hot air balloons, it’s cramped. Inside the basket are five sectioned spots, the middle is for the captain, then there are four others, two on each side, that each of us climbed into. Our section was about 4′ x 6′ and had four people in it. Not the best for claustrophobic individuals perhaps.
Then before you know it, you’re up, up, and away! The gentlest of take-offs, you might not even know when you’ve left the ground until you notice, hey, we’re floating!
Once we took to the air I had two primary sensations; one being that the movement is very calm, you’re gliding in the air, the other being that it’s hot! The flame blowers, because honestly that’s what they are, are very warm and even at the far corner of the basket the heat became very uncomfortable on the top of my head.
But even with the heat, the ride was fabulous. Moving through the sky and changing altitudes all while floating in a basket held up by a balloon is a surreal experience. It defies logic. We hit about 4,500 feet in altitude, which isn’t too far off from being a mile in the sky.
While up in our Phoenix hot air balloons we had a great view of the area mountains as well as some outskirt communities of Phoenix. Waving at people driving down the highway as we floated over them was fun and worrisome at the same time.
Soon our delightful glide in the sky came to an end and we came in for a landing. Our ground team had tracked us and was driving around talking with the captain to be ready for our landing. Our first landing put us too close to a cactus and the captain was worried about the balloon being damaged, so the captain took off again to look for a better spot. Finally, we found a clearing, and while the ground team started to dismantle the balloon, we enjoyed some breakfast.
And that was the end of our hot air balloon ride in Phoenix, an exciting and memorable experience. If you’re heading to the Phoenix area I highly recommend you book a ride and have your own experience lifting up, up, and away!
Thank you to Visit Phoenix for hosting me on this press trip.