The “Rodeo Landing”

Too many times we see the inaccurate term of a hot air balloon “crash landing” used by media or onlookers who simply don’t understand the true mechanics of hot air ballooning. We have also found that not a lot of hot air balloon companies take the time to explain why balloons drag upon landing or the gondola (basket) tips to the side. We are going to break it down for you and put your mind at ease!

When you fly with Sonoma Ballooning, know that we follow the highest level of safety standards. When your pilot announces that it is time to prepare for landing, please pay close attention! This means putting your cell phone away in your pocket and/or securing your camera back on its neck strap and listening to your pilot’s instructions.


Please assume your landing positions when instructed to do so. Your skilled pilot will utilize his control lines of the hot air balloon to prep for landing.

While the majority of landings are smooth, the gondola is designed to handle landings that might occur at higher speeds due to wind surface conditions. This may include a few small bumps as the balloon drags (don’t worry, the gondola is built for this and is the “rodeo” part), as your pilot adjusts to the surface wind conditions.

It is not uncommon for the gondola to “tip” to its side during the rodeo landing. Remember it’s got a rigid frame, padded sidewalls, and as you can see here, makes for a fun photo op! Just remember to listen to your pilot; he’ll let you know when it’s okay to get out. 😉

If you have any pre-existing conditions, we encourage you to consult with your physician and view our safety information to determine if ballooning is appropriate for you.