If you've ever tried to beat rush-hour traffic by tethering your car with helium-filled balloons, then you know that hot-air flight should be left to the professionals. The Federal Aviation Administration–certified pilots at Sky Drifters Hot Air Ballooning embark on journeys from the Sierra Nevada foothills daily, and their company has been named one of the 10Best attractions in Sacramento. Whether piloting a small group or private flight, the balloon captains show passengers a bird’s-eye view of the rolling hills, winding rivers and finely crafted comb-overs whose majesty can only be truly appreciated from above. Their aerial transports also play host to weddings in the sky and can provide a lift to those who enjoy BASE jumping from the clouds.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.
Aerostat Adventures' owner, Bob Barbarick, started flying back in 1977 and has flown more than 5,500 hours since. Bob channels his love of flight into private balloon voyages, which sail 1,000–3,000 feet above wine-growing regions such as the Dry Creek Valley, Chalk Hill, and Russian River. As passengers take in views of the earth below or finally settle arguments over which Beatle that one cloud is shaped like, they can also chat with their pilot about ballooning or the balloons themselves, which were all custom crafted by Cameron Balloons.
There's nothing like a gentle journey through the skies to really lift your spirits. Wine Country Balloons knows this—its FAA-certified pilots elevate guests high above rolling vineyards, verdant farmland, and the Russian River, allowing them to take-in breathtaking views. Throughout the ride, guests experience a sense of peace as they're lifted gently upward on natural air currents, soaring through the sky without without the sensation of wind or movement. During these tranquil rides, the experienced sky captains helm a variety of different balloons, and during each ride, they enhance the flying experience by answering questions and translating birdsong into English.
With its sprawling, emerald vineyards, slate-colored lakes, and winding rivers, the Sonoma Valley seems unfairly intended for birds. However, Sonoma Valley Balloons' FAA-certified balloon pilots with more than 30 years of experience rebel against Mother Nature, lifting their hot air crafts from the ground and navigating them along the morning sky's gentle air currents with little sensation of motion and wind. Because of this, passengers have commented that they didn't realize the balloon had lifted off the ground, and that they had no perception of height as there is nothing connecting them to the ground.
As the aerostat soars over the picturesque valley and Russian River with the sight of the Pacific coast to San Francisco Bay, geysers, and giant redwood trees in the distance on clear days, passengers can merely gaze in awe at the views or finally retrieve their long-lost frisbees. All pilots are fully insured and licensed by the California Public Utilities Commission and United States Department of Transportation, ensuring a safe, professional flight.
Almost everyone dreams of flying. In those dreams, landscapes unravel below like patchwork quilts, and high, soft breezes brush past your face while mountains and hills jut out of the earth to form peaks and valleys. They're gentle dreams, and ones that Calistoga Balloon Co can make real with high-soaring balloon rides.
During sunrise launches, their rainbow-hued balloons flit above the north end of Napa Valley, gliding passengers along scenic grapevine corridors and mountain vistas unique to the region. The area is also home to landmarks the likes of Mount Saint Helena, the Palisades Cliffs, and the Napa Valley Castle—all sights to be savored from the basket of a hot air balloon. To celebrate collecting such lifelong memories, passengers can enjoy a champagne breakfast after touchdown followed by activities such as leisurely picnics or bike tours through the wine country.