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Credit: Anne Shaw

A Hot-Air Balloon Float Over The Sonoran Desert

By Anne Shaw

Who in their right mind gets up at 4:30 a.m. on their holidays? Well, I never said we were in our right minds. Yes, we had the kids up at 4:30 a.m. to drive to the north side of Phoenix for a Sunrise balloon flight. It was pitch dark, but we found Rainbow Ryders quite easily.

With a warm, friendly greeting we were then moved into the transport vehicles and were driven about 20 minutes out where we made a quick stop so the balloon pilots could check out the helium balloon. Understanding the science and the safety they keep in mind gave us a sense of security.

The balloon set up was fun to watch in and of itself. Three of our family were asked to get in the basket early to help add some weight to it. Scary to think if they actually had to drive. But again, safety was at its utmost and the Rainbow Ryders crew made the experience entertaining and fun.

Once we all got in, the jets of flames from the burners lifted us slowly and peacefully off the ground. Our pilot Al, was fantastic. He really knew his stuff and had tidbits of information about the area, the vegetation and, of course, ballooning. Who knew we would learn something AND get amazing views.

We were in the air for about an hour, maybe a bit longer, but it felt like minutes. The kid’s smiles were enough to prove this was well worth the cost. The peace and serenity of being in the balloon was so needed too, even if it does mean we had to float almost 1,370 metres above the ground for silence in the family. I will do it again any time.

Al gently brought us back down and the ground crew met us with champagne and orange juice holding to the French traditions. Even after an efficient load of the balloon and transport back to base, we were still smiling. From there a quick drive back to the hotel and we were on the pool deck sunning by 10 a.m! Whew, so much done before noon!