Few activities free us of our daily concerns as much as an exhilarating hot air balloon ride, floating gently in the fresh air above a stunning landscape of Sonoma Valley. From the moment the balloon begins to rise, your attention will be fully absorbed by the majestic panorama of the area.
This breathtaking experience is particularly memorable when you greet the new day while floating gently and safely above the world-famous vineyards and communities of Sonoma’s Wine Country. You will marvel at the breathtaking views of the undulating, mountainous backdrop and even a unique perspective of San Francisco Bay in the distance.
History of hot air balloon flying
Hot air ballooning is safe and fun, each experience creating new memories and photo ops that will last a lifetime. Guided by experienced and fully certified pilots, Sonoma Ballooning provides a delightful, breathtaking experience with each flight.
As with other forms of aviation, hot air ballooning has been around for a while. As with airplanes and helicopters, the basic principles remain the same, although the equipment and pilot skills have progressed tremendously.
The famous Italian artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci envisioned and even designed a lighter-than-air balloon during the 15th Century. Eventually, two brothers from France, the Montgolfiers, decided to take the idea from the drawing board to reality. Their first attempts in 1783 were with tethered balloons made from cotton canvas or burlap lined with paper. These were then filled with hot air from a fire fueled by burning wool and straw, causing them to rise.
To further test the concept, untethered and with occupants, the Montgolfier brothers loaded a sheep, duck, and rooster into an attached balloon compartment, where they lifted off for an eight-minute flight, landing softly approximately two miles away.
From that time, human flights evolved, some successfully and some decidedly not. Today, the technology, materials, and safety precautions Sonoma balloon flights have eliminated the original risks of lighter-than-air aviation.
How does a hot air balloon work?
Modern hot air balloons consist of three essential components.
The first and most apparent is the envelope or “balloon,” which fills with heated air that expands and reduces the overall weight of the balloon’s entire construction and passengers to a level less than the weight of an equal volume of ambient air. When this occurs, the Sonoma Valley hot air balloon and its contents want to rise. Envelopes are now made from various fabrics, typically no-tear nylon or polyester, with a fire-resistant material near the bottom to prevent damage from the heating element.
The second important feature of a hot air balloon is the gondola or basket that suspends beneath the balloon and carries the pilot, the necessary equipment. and the passengers. Baskets range from small, accommodating just two or three passengers and pilot, to a size that can hold up to twelve people. These structures are made from cane material, usually Kooboo or Palembang.
The burner propels heated air into the balloon, causing the temperature within the envelope to rise. The heat causes the molecules to expand or spread out, creating a lighter-than-air condition. Once aloft, the pilot can control the rate of rise or descent by increasing or decreasing the burner’s heat levels. The burner is typically fueled by propane from onboard tanks, while larger balloons may require more than one burner to create sufficient heat.
While the pilot can control the balloon’s altitude by simply adjusting the burner level, directional control largely depends on prevailing wind conditions. Experienced pilots of Sonoma Valley balloons know how to anticipate and adapt to wind conditions to guide the aircraft to the desired destination each time.
Reserve your Sonoma Balloon rides
Safe, enjoyable, and fun, greeting the morning sun with Sonoma balloon rides is a remarkable way to begin your Sonoma Valley adventure. You will find no better way to “get the lay of the land” from above Sonoma Valley than with Sonoma Ballooning adventures.