Now before you jump to conclusions and start thinking I’m off to Amsterdam or something you might want to read a little further…. in fact I wonder how many people will find this article after searching for something entirely different.

Well, now that I have captured your full attention I am expecting to lose about 50% of you when I explain what I mean by getting high. Yep, that’s right we are going Hot Air Ballooning!

This is something that I have been wanting to do for many years now but have never had the opportunity to try. I always wondered what the feeling of flying like a bird would be like – the cool air rushing past your body as you soar effortlessly through the sky. The silent freedom that flight brings is surely something truly wonderful I thought.

Just over 10 years ago I managed to pluck up the courage to jump out of an airplane. Before we went up in the plane I had always imagined that skydiving would be a peaceful experience, the closest thing to human flight….. boy was I wrong.

From the moment you step to the edge of the plane, ready to take that leap of faith, you can feel the turbulent wind pushing against you. Once you jump the realization kicks in that this is not the floating, peaceful feeling you had envisaged – rather an exhilarating rush from the fact you are falling through the sky at break-neck speeds.

I imagine that riding in a hot air balloon will be more like the soaring feeling I have so often dreamt of and in two weeks time, I will get to find out.

Hot air balloon flying low

There are moments in life where the stars seem to align and the things you had always wanted to do present themselves. This is one of those times… With the arrival of my mum tomorrow, in conjunction with Lisette’s birthday coming up, the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride seemed more than ideal.

Both my mum and Lisette have mentioned to me on several occasions their desire to go up in a balloon. In fact, mum even went so far as to book it in back in Sydney, only to be cancelled due to poor weather.

The Search Begins

So I started my search for the best company to take my mum and fiance on a flight over the Napa Valley Wine Country.

The thought of going up in a small basket with a huge flame just metres above your head, reliant solely on the mercy of the winds is daunting enough by itself. Add to that the responsibility of taking the two most important people in your life and you want to make the best decision possible.

After much searching online I ended up finding Napa Valley Aloft, a small “family owned and run” business. What drew me to their company was their experience, having pioneered flights in the Napa region back in the 70’s and going on to achieve World Ballooning Records.

I have since learned that they offer a more boutique experience of 8 – 12 passenger baskets as opposed to the larger 16 – 24 passengers capacity offered by the competition (this fits perfectly with our brand wouldn’t you say).

Now as you might well know this area is renowned for the low-lying fog that envelopes much of the San Francisco Bay and surrounds. The Napa Valley is no exception and flights often have to be canceled or diverted to other routes. Luckily Napa Valley Aloft has secured the sole flying rights to leave from Pope Valley on foggy mornings.

Pricing and Options

With prices for a one hour flight ranging from $180 – $250 per person across the operators in the area (not exactly affordable for everyone but definitely an experience of a lifetime), Napa Valley Aloft’s price of $200 pp seemed very reasonable given the more personal flying experience.

There is also an option to book a private flight for two or four people. I can imagine this being very popular for marriage proposals and other special occasions. Prices for these private options range from $1050 – $1600.

So there you have it…. in a couple of weeks, I will be flying high above the vineyards sipping on a glass of champagne. If you are interested in taking a flight please feel free to contact me and I can put you in touch with the lovely people at Napa Valley Aloft.

2 Comments

  • Michael… Napa Valley Aloft team responding to your post! We can’t wait to host you on your trip and don’t worry about packing your loved ones into a basket that soars over three thousand feet.. North American balloons are the safest balloons in the world! Not to mention, Jay, a.k.a. “Jay-Bird”, has over 10,000 flight hours that he’s accumulated.. one.. hour.. at.. a.. time (THAT’S A LOT OF FLIGHTS).

    Jayson, Jay’s son, has been around balloons since birth and was the youngest pilot to fly solo at the age of 14. He later went on to become one of the youngest commercial pilots at the age of 18. These two lead our aviation team for Aloft.. their skill and expertise ranks them as some of the top pilots in the U.S., if not in the world! You are in good hands!!!

    • Michael Glass says:

      Awesome stuff!! That makes me feel a lot better. Although, to be honest, it was more of a mum worry than anything else 🙂

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