I have been on 2 different Hot Air Balloon flights. The first in 1992 in Tucson, AZ and the second was in 2010 in Del Mar, California.The above photo is of the flight in Tucson. There were 8 passengers and we met in a parking lot at a playground and were driven to a construction site. They set up in the early morning. The houses in the background didn’t have anyone living in them yet. The balloon company needs room to inflate the balloon and with the ever growing city, they would just find an empty space to unload the equipment and get ready. The day was gorgeous and the flight was smooth. The view from up there is spectacular and the desert is beautiful from that perspective. There was another balloon up that day and you can see it in the background of the above photo and in the photo with a view from our balloon. The riverbed that is snaking through the photo is where we landed. The landing was bumpy and the chase crew was holding on and being dragged a little ways, some of them got cactus spines stuck in their pants. Overall it was a great experience and didn’t deter us from going up again 18 years later.
The second ride was in Del Mar, close to San Diego, CA. This time, it was a sunset ride that included views of the ocean. The set up was similar to the first time but they used a field that was near a strip mall. The balloon was larger and there were 16 passengers in this one. We lifted easily and the views were beautiful. We were drifting along taking in the sights when we noticed the pilot spitting over the edge of the basket. He would radio to the chase crew because they had a predetermined area where he was trying to land. The wind had died down while we were up there and he was frequently adjusting the altitude the balloon was flying at. The reason he was spitting was to determine the wind direction at different altitudes. He was looking for wind to carry us along to a landing area. At one point he lifted the balloon really high and was communicating with the chase crew letting them know they needed to move because we weren’t going to make to the area they are generally able to land. The crew was able to get to the balloon after climbing a barbed wire fence and landed easily- in the middle of a lemon grove. The pilot needed to get the balloon over the fence and onto the street so he sent 4 men out of the basket(my husband being one of them) to guide the basket over the fence to the chase crew on the other side and then onto the street. This then left the 4 male passengers on the other side of this 8 foot barbed wire fence and they had to climb over because the owner didn’t seem to be home to let them out a gate. Now the basket and balloon are on one side of a fairly busy street and the owner of the house across from the lemon grove came out and started directing traffic through his circular driveway. By the time everything was packed up, it was completely dark. It was a fun adventure and a great story to tell.