“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”
We love what we do!
Sonoma Ballooning is Wine Country’s premier hot air ballooning experience! We are the FIRST and ONLY hot air ballooning company in Sonoma Valley. Come enjoy Sonoma on a whole new level with a FUN and reputable group of individuals dedicated to showing you the best that Sonoma has to offer. With decades of combined experience in hot air ballooning, outdoor recreation, customer service and hospitality, our team of dedicated pilots, crew and staff are here to provide you with an epic adventure you won’t soon forget. Simply come enjoy the ride, as we provide a safe and comfortable environment for all of our guests. We are a diverse group, family owned and operated (including three female owners), working and living in Sonoma and Napa counties.
Jeff comes from a family rooted in flying and is proud to carry on their decades long tradition. Not only is Jeff an FAA Certified pilot for hot air balloons, but he is an airplane pilot as well and formally served in the U.S. Coast Guard.
While Jeff has had the opportunity to travel and fly balloons coast to coast (even internationally), Northern California and Sonoma’s beautiful corridor has always held a special place in his heart and he’s happy to call Sonoma his home.
Mateo first became involved in the ballooning community at the age of 17 while working as a crew member. He quickly developed a passion for the sport and within four years, obtained his private pilot’s license and soon after, purchased his first balloon.
After years of flying in the Sonoma wine making region, he obtained his Commercial Pilot Certificate and became an FAA Certified pilot. Mateo always looks forward to sharing hot air ballooning in Sonoma with both locals and tourists alike.
Chad’s love for aviation is inspired by his father, a retired Navy pilot and flight instructor.
As a Napa native, he is well versed in the topography of Northern California Wine Country and is filled with fun facts about the region. In addition to hot ballooning Sonoma, Chad has been fortunate to balloon Napa Valley, Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Middletown, Santa Rosa and Winters in the great Sacramento Valley. Chad’s also participated in the Reno Balloon Festival, and has flown in St. George, Utah and Minden, Nevada.
When he’s not at his full time gig as a certified hot air balloon repairman, running inspections and repairing balloons, Ignacio, “Nacho” assists our team by not only piloting, but crewing when necessary. He’s had the pleasure of flying both private and commercial flights in Wine Country, Yolo County, Reno and Carson Valley, Nevada.
Nacho’s been in the hot air balloon industry since 2012 and has attended and worked hot air balloon festivals such as the Great Reno Balloon Race and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Jose’s passion for hot air ballooning shines bright when he takes to the skies. Like all of our pilots, he’s not afraid to chip in wherever needed and it’s been great watching his career take off (pun intended)!
To say Jose embraces the art of hot air ballooning to its fullest is truly an understatement! When he’s not at Sonoma Ballooning, he’s teaching art techniques to individuals of all ages and skill levels. He even hosts paint parties that often times include painting hot air balloons with scenic wine country views.
Ryan found his love for ballooning by enjoying the sport alongside his father at a very young age. He has been a pilot for 20 years and is going strong!
Not only does Ryan take to the skies via hot air balloon, but he also has an extensive background in the Air Force. He flew a C-21A then eventually transitioned to the KC-10! He became an instructor pilot, and upon retiring, has joined the reserves as a KC-10 pilot.
Operations Manager & “PIT” Crew — Luis
Luis not only oversees our reservation team and field operations, but he’s a “PIT” (Pilot in Training) crew member! He started in the world of hot air ballooning in 2012. You may seem him on some of your flights with one of our lead pilots, logging time towards his commercial pilot’s license.
Luis is also a Sonoma State University graduate with a business degree, which attributes to his focus on best company practices. With his attention to detail and charismatic personality, his future as a pilot is a bright one.
Human Resources Director — Becky
Forget about Nurse Betty, we’ve got Doctor of Nursing Practice, Becky! In addition to her DNP, she’s s a board-certified Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and ARNP. Her laser focus and attention to detail makes her the perfect “go to” for human resources.
Becky ensures that our pilots, crew and staff are up-to-date on flight operations, safety, rules and regulations, while keeping the positive team camaraderie that Sonoma Ballooning is known for. She embodies the “work and have fun” philosophy and that is why our team is such a tight-knit family.
Lisa has always been involved in industries that perpetuate excitement, outdoor adventure and community goodwill. Having worked within the Harley-Davidson® dealer network to helping first responders in the fire and law enforcement industries to hot air ballooning, this marketing maven operates at warp speed.
Lisa’s also our “facilitator of fun,” coordinating team building activities that foster an energetic and empowering work environment, which translates to an extraordinary ballooning adventure for our guests.
Operations & Guest Relations — Sean
Sean covers all facets of guest hospitality and is one of our primary liaisons for land owner relations in the community. His energetic personality shines through in all that he does, from greeting our guests to crewing and more!
If you happen to fall in love with Sonoma wine country during your visit here, Sean can help make your stay more permanent. During the day, he helps clients secure their dream homes in Sonoma County! He is also working on earning his fixed wing pilot’s license and is an avid boater.
Johnny says that ballooning is one of the things he’ll always do in life and enjoys seeing the smiles we put on our guests’ faces! He’s been in the hot air balloon industry for over 5 years. Prior to joining us, Johnny served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. His “can do” attitude and camaraderie are top notch.
Johnny also interned with our Marketing Director, Lisa while attending Sonoma State University.
As an engineer by trade having worked in Northern California wine country, it’s only natural that Travis enjoys the mechanics and technical aspects of hot air ballooning. He’s also an endurance runner, so chasing balloons is a fun hobby for him.
If you need ideas on the best Sonoma County wineries to visit during your stay here, don’t hesitate to ask him for suggestions!
Pilot In Training
Aaron is currently learning the ropes from his Sonoma Ballooning family.
On occasion you may catch him greeting guests, hanging with the chase crew or assisting post-flight!
Brooklyn the wonder dog rescue likes riding in the truck with the crew and pops into the office for treats. He recommends visiting Larson Family Winery and trying their Three Lab Cab! The dogs there will welcome you with open paws. 😉