Hot Air Balloon Adventure

There’s a certain excitement when you see a hot air balloon floating in the sky.  But to actually be in one, lift off, and see the ground below you shrink as you float away. It is just the beginning of your Hot Air Balloon Adventure.

Do your homework

Did you know that in order to legally fly a balloon in America you have to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration with at least 500 hours of flying time? When you are looking at different companies safety should be at the top of your list. I went with Above the Clouds Balloon Rides, which is located in the Hudson Valley, New York State. It was about a 2 hour drive without traffic. Our pilot had 39 years experience, his FAA certification and a clean safety record.

Be patient and flexible

Our first scheduled ride was cancelled for weather reasons. There was a heat dome that sat over the area. The air mass has moisture that gets trapped in it and as the temperatures cool it causes morning fog. Rescheduling was easy. I was disappointed at first, but that’s where you need to be patient and flexible. The weather this year has been a bit unpredictable, but it is worth the wait. We had perfect weather for the second date.

Dress for success

We were given specific instructions to wear long pants and closed toed shoes. The temperature on the ground is the same as the temperature in the air. Since it was a warm, humid morning a jacket was not necessary. Other times of the year it might be cooler, so check with the company on how you should dress. It is also not the time to wear a dress. Not only do you have to get into the gondola, but you have to get out, too. I was able to climb in and out easily, but if you need assistance the crew is there to help you. You must also stand for the duration of the ride. Be sure your shoes are comfortable.

What to take with you

Be sure to take your camera. You will want plenty of pictures. I wouldn’t suggest an expensive camera or ones where you need to change the lenses. Your phone will do the job nicely! I added a PopSocket phone grip and it worked beautifully. You can bring a pair of sunglasses, but a large bag will only get in the way.

Take in the sights

Take time to enjoy the ride. Your pilot is very knowledgeable and will probably share some of the sights below you or off in the distance. We were in the Hudson Valley and you could see the Catskill Mountains, farmland and beautiful lush green trees. You can ask questions, but keep them to a minimum.


Your pilot will let you know when you will be landing. You will also notice that you are getting closer to the ground. When you are close to landing, he may tell you it is time to bend your knees. Bending your knees is easier on the body when you are landing. We had a very smooth landing. The crew met us and they guided our balloon the rest of the way to the ground.


At the end of our flight, as the crew put the balloon away, we celebrated with mimosas (or orange juice, or just champagne). It was fun to clink glasses with the fellow guests and take some final pictures. The tradition of toasting with champagne after a hot air balloon ride originated in the 1780s, symbolizing the safe return to the ground. Today, this champagne toast after a safe landing is a global tradition.


I know you just paid a decent amount of money for your flight, but there will be an opportunity to tip at the end of your ride, so bring some cash with you. We tipped an extra $20 per person. Our pilot was wonderful, and I appreciated his expertise.


Here are a few terms you should know:

Gondola is the basket you will be riding inside.

Envelope is what they call the balloon.

Inflation The crew inflates the envelope. It is important to note they do not blow it up.

Burner system is the engine of the hot air balloon. It is what propels the hot air up into the envelope to make the balloon rise. 

Lessons learned

It has been said that a balloon ride is a metaphor for life. When you take off in a balloon the course is determined by the wind. In life, like the wind, there are things that we cannot control. We can either push against the wind or allow ourself to let the wind guide us.

We can’t control which direction the wind blows us, but we can choose to rise above the problems of the day and look at them from a distance. This distance gives us a bigger picture and we might even notice new details or possibilities.  This balloon ride has taught me a little more about perspective and point of view that I can use in my writing.

I hope you have the opportunity to have your own Hot Air Balloon Adventure one day!

With gratitude …

I am glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying. 

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