When I was in Phoenix in June (during a 120 degree heat wave!) I got to cross something off my bucket list — going on a hot air balloon ride!
Because it was so hot, we had to get up at 3:45 am and get out to the site before 5 am to be able to go on the ride before it got too hot. Hence my glasses and wet bun look in the photos at the end. Contacts do NOT like to go in my eyes that early in the morning.
I was definitely a teeny tiny bit nervous about it, but nothing that would ever stop me from going.
Make sure you watch my video of the ride (it’s super short!).
It was really cool to see the other hot air balloons in the air at the same time over the mountains.
The pilot and crew at Hot Air Expeditions made me feel very comfortable, and they were also hilarious.
We got to experience sunrise in the air!
I thought I was going to be cold, but considering the temperatures at 4 am were around 90 degrees, I had nothing to worry about. Plus because of the burners being within reach of the pilot, it’s actually really hot in the basket.
The view was pretty incredible. Seeing it in the open air versus through a plane window is a much more enjoyable experience. I’ve never been on a helicopter ride, but that is DEFINITELY on my bucket list — I want to do it in Hawaii, and the Grand Canyon would probably also be cool!
The thing that surprised me the most was how smooth takeoff was. I didn’t even realize we had taken off, it was so gentle. The entire ride until the landing was so smooth. Way more calming than a plane.
Hot air balloons work because hot air rises. If you put hot air into a balloon, it will go up. So the pilot will turn on the burners, get more hot air into the balloon so you will rise, then turn it off and you coast, and eventually come down. To go up, more hot air, to go down, turn it off. Most of the ride, the burners are off.
We had a rare side landing. Our pilot said it only happens about 10% off the time due to wind and things, but I’m glad we had this experience, it was more interesting! They teach you how to brace yourself, it’s really easy. You can see the landing in my video. I got it all on camera!
The basket is divided into little compartments, and you put your back against one, and your hands on the other, and if it tips over, like it did in our case, you are fully braced. It didn’t even feel like a hard landing. Landing in a plane is much worse. Also this is rare, so most people just land with the basket standing up.
If you’ve ever been afraid to go on a hot air balloon ride, you really shouldn’t be. Just made sure you go with a reputable company and an experienced pilot.
Special thanks to Visit Phoenix for hosting me and Hot Air Expeditions for the ride!