Ballooning in Napa

An Exciting, Beautiful, and Colorful Experience.

My partner in crime surprised me with a hot air balloon flight. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. I’d always wanted to do this, but I was not sure how unstable, scary, and maybe dramatic it was going to be.

The tours usually take place during the early morning, when there is not much wind and it’s safer to fly. Napa is about one hour and a half from home, so we decided to leave on Friday night and spend the night close by. Unfortunately, the weather was not good for the previous three days, so we had to call at 5:00 am to check the status of our ballooning ride. Thankfully everything cleared up and our ballooning flight was scheduled. I had never seen the sunrise in Napa before; there was so much fog on our way there, but little by little a cold morning turned into a beautiful pink sky.

Aloft is a wonderfully professional company that made us feel secure and in good hands. Check-in time was 6:40 am in Yountville. The gracious staff explained the process of getting in and out the basket, what to expect, what to do, and what not to do, all over complimentary coffee and pastries.

The balloons had a capacity of twelve people plus the pilot. There are smaller ones for private trips and bigger ones are offered through other companies. Our balloon was Tango; the incredibly kind staff offered to take pictures of us while the morning sun continued rising, the colorful balloons started elevating, the furnaces were burning, and the excitement was increasing.

At the beginning it feels a little unexpected and scary, so just hug your loved one and enjoy the breeze! It is warm when the furnace is on, but the noise that it makes every now and then is somewhat hair-raising.

The views are amazing! Depending on the air temperature, the balloon goes higher or lower. The pilot has a GPS, route, gas cylinders, many flight hours, and experience that came with a well-deserved pilot license. The balloon was very stable; nobody moved much so the flight was peaceful, romantic, and completely stunning.

We enjoyed the blue sky, lush green grass, beautiful mansions, infinite vineyards, and gorgeous colorful balloons flying all over lovely Napa Valley.

It was time, after approximately forty minutes, to land on the other side of Yountville. The landing was a little rough. The pilot repeated, “Please do not jump out the basket, you will not need to jump out, just wait until I tell you it is time to leave.” Ohhh boy! Twice I was very close to the land, leaning about 30 degrees. I even wanted to jump out, so I’m glad that the pilot reminded us not to!

A van was waiting for us and the pilot was our driver back. Brunch is optional; you will be hungry though, and I advise you to be part of it. The eggs and French toast were delicious! Great conversation and laughs with a funny and clever pilot and ballooning mates over cheerful mimosas rounded up a fabulous and romantic ballooning flight. Cheers!

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