ballooning in Phoenix - hot air balloons over a mountainous area

Ballooning in Phoenix

We do Estate Planning at Phelps LaClair, helping individuals and families plan for a secure future. But we also love to enjoy and make the most of the present. Want some adventure? The Arizona Balloon Festival and Race is one of the major metropolitan ballooning events in the world, and it takes place every year right here in our own backyard. More than thirty balloonists gather each year to celebrate their love of flying for three colorful and majestic days of suspended animation. Not since the Montgolfier brothers first rose into the ether in 1783 has so much passion been displayed for the art of piloting a bag of hot air. Even though the January festival has already taken place for this year, we encourage you to check out the many opportunities for ballooning in Phoenix that are available every month.

Getting Aloft

Part of the excitement is watching the balloon inflate. The bag, officially called the envelope, is laid out horizontally on the ground, and the mouth of the balloon is held open so a fan can begin to blow air into it. When the envelope is about half full of cold air, the basket and burners are attached to the mouth. Still in a horizontal position, the balloon is quickly filled by the hot air from the burner. After it has taken shape and rises to an upright position, the passengers and crew enter the basket, which is about chest high for the average height adult. The weight in the basket is evenly distributed and the tether lines are cast off, allowing the balloon to ascend.

Up, Up and Away

Now the real thrill begins! The balloon rises, giving a spectacular view of the surrounding land. When it reaches the desired altitude, the burners go silent and the balloon drifts along in silence like a ghost ship in the air. The feeling has been described as ethereal, mesmerizing, and serene. As passengers have anticipated the flight, (some with anticipation, others with anxiety), the prevailing feeling is elation. The sun, the scenery, the silence: all combine to produce a sense of euphoria as the balloon slowly rises and falls, turning gently with the shifting winds. The quiet peace is only interrupted by the whoosh of the burner as it heats up the air in the envelope to gain altitude again. And then, all too quickly, it is time to land.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

The landing is the part that requires the most skill and preparation. A balloon seldom lands like a gentle feather on a pillow. The pilot chooses a suitable spot devoid of obstacles, and the aim is to set the balloon down without bouncing or dragging too much. Often, the passengers will end up lying prone and will need to crawl out of the basket! But as long as there is not a strong breeze, the landing will be fairly uneventful. The balloon is quickly deflated and packed up by the recovery crew, and everybody heads off for the traditional Champagne toast. The memories of the flight will last for years, and some will check it off their bucket list. Others will plan for their next adventure, hooked by the joy of ballooning.

Almost everyone, from an 8-year-old to his great-grandmother, can enjoy a balloon ride. At Phelps LaClair, serving the Phoenix Valley, we believe fun and adventure contribute to a long and happy life. The next time someone asks you if you want to go ballooning in Phoenix, don’t hesitate . . . give a resounding YES!!! Let’s do it!



Images used under creative commons license (Commerical Use) 02/28/19   Photo by nicholas souroujon from Burst

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