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.
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.
As sure as the sun emerges from Sonoma’s horizon each morning, passengers will soar the skies in Up & Away Ballooning’s vibrantly colored hot-air balloons to view it. These sunrise rides have touched the clouds for nearly 15 years, helmed by FAA-certified pilots who are well versed in weather patterns and let the winds guide the aircrafts at varying altitudes. Depending on how high you journey, you might soak in epic views of the Pacific Ocean, Napa Valley, or San Francisco. Passengers gaze down upon the world in awe in groups of 6, 9, or 14, and conclude their rides with a brunch of champagne, quiche, and bread that has been toasted by the sun on the pilot’s outstretched hands.
Eureka is a fitting name for Airship Venture's 246-foot-long zeppelin, an astounding aeronautical innovation. Longer than a Boeing 747, the gentle behemoth takes to the skies after filling its hull with nonflammable helium gas. The great ship is run by husband-and-wife team Brian and Alex Hall, who channeled their entrepreneurial spirit and love of aeronautics into the US's first and only zeppelin. The airship soars over San Francisco regularly on tours of the city and surrounding area, and can even do long-distance flights to Los Angeles, the Sonoma Valley, or Never Never Land. Intrigued passengers can also take the ground tour to see the zeppelin and its inner workings up close.