#316: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon


LOCATION: Magical Adventures Balloon Rides. Del Mar, California

This post is part of my San Diego/San Francisco trip series. This is the beginning of the series.

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Hot air ballooning has always intrigued me. What would it feel like to be up high in one of them? I’ve looked into going places along the East Coast, but prices have always been super steep; around $300+ for one person! But, here in San Diego, it was priced just right! We decided to do a sunset ride over the ritzy area of Del Mar, California.

The hot air balloon is actually the oldest successful human carrying flight technology and occurred in 1783. Hot air balloons basically consist of a basket, burners and the envelope (or the big parachute/balloon looking thing for people like me). When the burners push air into the envelope, the heat inside makes the balloon buoyant since it has a lower density than the air outside the balloon. The shift in upward and downward motion is controlled by opening and closing the top portion of the balloon to allow heat to escape.


Top of the envelope that allows heat to escape when moving directions

We arrived at our launch location and were able to watch the set up process. This consisted of unfolding the envelope and filling it with air from a large box fan.hotair19

Filling the balloon with air

Filling the balloon with air

Once it was filled with enough air, heat was used to fill the remaining portion until it lifted up. Soon the balloon was upright and ready, and it was big! I’ve seen them in the distance before but wasn’t prepared for just how big they were in person.hotair11

We had 16 people in our group and four people could fit in each basket spot. It was definitely cramped! The pilot continued to push heat inside the envelope until we were off the ground. Surprisingly, once in the air, we lifted pretty quickly. I was also very surprised at how stable the ride was. I expected a little tipping back and forth as people moved around, but not one bit of rockiness. It was smooth sailing…err…floating for the next hour.hotair8

We flew over Del Mar and the luxurious homes of the famous. Andre Agassi and Phil Mickelson to name a few. Most homes had personal tennis courts and lavish pools. There was not a small 4 bedroom house in sight. hotair6Our views were of vast homes, the water and mountains. It was gorgeous for a balloon ride. As we flew, the pilot continued to push heat into the balloon and floated us up and down along the city. Our end destination would be a new location than the start since the wind determines where we float to. Hot air ballooning is a tough job due to that and there is a lot of uncertainty about landing since it relies a lot on wind. The pilot said that 5% of the time, the landing is made badly and not on target. How would you like a big balloon in your backyard?

After an hour of flying, and deaf ears from the burner noise (bring ear plugs!!) we were ready to land. As we got closer to the ground we assumed the position of squatting in the basket and skidded to a stop as workers on the ground held the basket down.

Landing the balloon.

Landing the balloon.

Once off the flight, we were greeted with glasses of champagne; a ballooning tradition that dates back to the start in 1783.

Champagne toast at the end

Champagne toast at the end

The tradition began as a way of introducing balloons to the world. In France, during the 18th Century, only the wealthy knew what hot air ballooning was. So, when pilots flew over the countryside, it scared local peasants. The pilots would travel with champagne to greet the peasants when they landed in their field. Thus, the tradition of a toast after flight was made. Cheers and welcome to the world of ballooning!

*Thank you Troy for accompanying me on this adventure.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? Yes, this was fun!

HOW TO DO THIS: Magical Adventures Balloon Rides has several locations in California and different price packages. We did the Del Mar sunset ride for $179.



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