WHAT TO EXPECT
We suggest scheduling your flight sometime November through May. Morning excursions begin just before sunrise. In the cooler weather (November through sometime mid-March) we offer an excursion that meets about two hours prior to sunset. Once the weather starts warming up it gets too breezy in The afternoon so the rest of the time we are limited to the sunrise flight.
The first step is to call about an hour and a half before your scheduled meeting time to make sure the forecast is favorable and for any last minute instructions. We will also let you know which vehicle to be looking for at The meeting site. That’s how you’ll locate us since several companies meet at the same place and there are no buildings or signs,
Then we all meet up at an open field right out in the desert! while everyone signs a waiver (a requirement of our insurance co.), The pilot is examining current wind conditions (specifically direction and speed) to decide where the best place would be to take off. Sometimes we take off at that initial meeting place. Other times the pilots decide to go to a different spot in which case we transport you in our vans. Either way, the next step is to set up the balloon. We always have plenty’ of trained and seasoned crew present to prepare for the launch, but some people like a more hands on approach. if that ‘s you, let us know–we have plenty of things that aren’t dangerous and don’t require previous training. The set up procedure involves 10 to 15 minutes or so. Ready or not it’s time to hop aboard for the experience of a lifetime! The flight takes place over the open desert. You’ll spend some time up high viewing all the mountains around–the Bradshaws up north towards Prescott, the White Tanks off to the west, the Estrellas and South Mountain in the south, and in the east are the Superstitions and the McDowell Mountains. Plus you get a great view of the general layout of the land, which is never quite as we imagine.
Additionally, some flight time is spent just above the surface, effortlessly skimming over the contour, perhaps scaling up the Side of a foothill and dodging a giant Saguaro cactus or a Palo Verde tree. ‘This is the highlight for some because it affords such a grand view of the desert terrain and an opportunity to watch for wildlife, jack rabbits and cottontail are common along with birds flying beneath you! Another frequent desert dweller spotted is the coyote (not Wiley, though they are!). Less frequent sightings include javalina, fox and even white tail & mule deer. In the spring everything is bursting with color as all the desert flora is in bloom, even the cacti. At the conclusion of the flight you set down on terra firma still in the desert. The “chase vehicle” has followed along on the ground (the balloon is usually in view, but we are also always in radio contact) and is there to “catch” the balloon.
Now’ it’s time to relax and take it all in. Out comes a table and tablecloth, picnic baskets and ice chest. We have the traditional celebratory champagne toast (in the mornings most people prefer rnimosas-a combination on champagne and orange juice) as the pilot takes you back in time to the original flights and then recites the Balloonists Prayer. Everyone is invited to enjoy the goodies that have been set out for you. The morning fare is somewhat of a continental breakfast with muffins/pastries and a basket of flesh seasonal fruit. The afternoon picnic consists of a southwestern favorite, chips and salsa, and other snacks along with some sweets to top it off. In addition to champagne, a non-alcohol version or sparkling cider, water and other beverages are also available. (We keep the food simple to ensure the quality’ at the time it is served since it was packed up before your meeting time and was carried along all the while you aloft-altogether at least 2 hours or more.) While you are enjoying the post flight festivities, the crew packs up the balloon (10 to 15 rninutes) and then joins in. And of course each passenger is entitled to a hand personalized flight certificate to give you bragging rights!
When everyone is ready we hop in the air-conditioned (or heated) vans and drive back to civilization and your own transportation. This final leg of your journey often amounts to a little desert jeep tour–hut no extra charge!!
A gala fringe benefit of ballooning in Phoenix is that due to the predicate, stable weather, it has become a very popular location for balloon rides. Perhaps more people go for a commercial balloon flight here each year than any place in the world! As a result on any given day the sky will be filed with a beautiful bouquet of colorful balloons That makes for great photos and adds to the mood.
As you depart headed home or perhaps to another event, you will have memories of a time that will be hard to top.
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WHAT TO EXPECT
We offer flights July through September, This time frame offers the ideal weather for ballooning here. Flights are offered twice daily (morning flights through mid-September). The exact meeting times fluctuate since they depend on sunrise and sunset because they affect the wind that is a very important factor in ballooning. So flights are shortly after sunrise (around 6:00) and a couple of hours prior to sunset. Usually the middle of the day is a bit too breezy.
First you’ll call about an hour before your scheduled flight to make sure the forecasted weather conditions look agreeable and for any last minute instructions.
You will, of course, need to sign a waiver. Once everyone has checked in, we will shuttle you to a launch site the pilots have selected depending on current wind conditions they have observed at the time.
Once at the launch site, we will set up the balloon, which takes about 15 minutes or so. Though we have plenty of experienced crew, if you wish to assist, let us know. There are always things to be done that require no training and are not dangerous.
Then you’ll board your craft for a once in a lifetime experience. Your pilot will brief you about safety and anything you should know. Once in the air it’s time to relax and enjoy about an hour aloft while you drift effortlessly over the picturesque Sammamish Valley (home of the Matthews Estate, Chateau St. Michelle, Columbia & other fine wineries and the Redhook Brewery). Some of the flight will take place up high–l,500 to 4,000 feet up where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Seattle skyline (easily spotting the world famous Space Needle!), Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and the mountain ranges surrounding the Puget Sound area. Also in sight are many bodies of water like Lake Washington, Lake Union and Puget Sound along with many smaller ones depending on your flight route. And you’ll spend some of your flight barely above the surface as you brush the treetops. Help yourself to the leaves for a souvenir!!
As each flight is unique, traveling where the wind carries us, we don’t know where we will land. So the vehicle you rode in to the launch site will be following along on the ground. We will be in contact visually as well as by radio. The “chase vehicle” will be there to “catch” the balloon. The crew will pack up the equipment taking only 10 to 15 minutes, then we will travel in the van back to the initial meeting site.
The pilot will share a fascinating (and mostly factual) story about the original balloon flight and recite the Balloonist’s Prayer. After the morning flight you’ll enjoy a traditional champagne and fruit juice toast. In the evening you will be treated to a wine tasting accompanied by light appetizers. This is an event unto itself and ballooning and wine are natural companions. With over 60 wineries in and around Woodinville, a premier winery, Matthew’s Estate, will host your post flight celebration. You may have noticed their award wining world-class wines on the menus in some of the most popular dining venues in the Puget Sound area. Their 8-acre property is a beautiful setting for many gatherings and special occasions. We think you will find this destination the perfect way to top off a spectacular evening.
Over the Rainbow Provides Hot Air Balloon Rides Throughout the Washington Area, servicing the following cities (as well with out of state/country visitors):
Aberdeen, Airway Heights, Algona, Anacortes, Arlington, Asotin, Auburn, Bainbridge Island, Battle Ground, Bellevue, Bellingham, Benton City, Bingen, Black Diamond, Blaine, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Bremerton, Brewseter, Bridgeport, Brier, Buckley, Burien, Burlington, Camas, Carnation, Cashmere, Castle Rock, Centralia, Chehalis, Chelan, Cheney, Chewelah, Clarkston, Cle Elum, Clyde Hill, Colfax, College Place, Colville, Connell
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