Hot Air Balloon Rides FAQs | Private & Sunset Ballooning | Seattle, Bellevue & Auburn, Washington


How is Seattle Ballooning Different?

We offer an upscale, luxurious experience that is totally unmatched in the Pacific Northwest. Our hot air balloon flights are much more intimate than most, with only two or four passengers on each flight. We also take special flight paths that no other balloon ride service offers - including an up-close-and-personal encounter with Mt. Rainier. We even follow the French ballooning tradition by ending every flight with a toast of champagne, brie, and fresh croissants. We know you might take just one hot air balloon ride in your life, so we try to make it magical.

Is hot air ballooning safe?

It’s the safest way to fly. Hot air balloons are registered aircraft which follow FAA safety and maintenance standards, just like a commercial airliner. All balloon pilots are licensed and trained according to rigorous standards, and specific safety mechanisms and equipment are required for every flight.

How many people does it take to fly a hot air balloon?

Safely launching and flying a hot air balloon typically requires two crew members. Duties of the crew include putting together and setting up the balloon, following the hot air balloon in our chase vehicle, talking with landowners and getting permission to land the hot air balloon on their property, and making sure the property is left as it was originally found.

How are balloons inflated?

The crew spreads the hot air balloon envelope on the ground and the basket is laid on its side. A 5hp gasoline powered fan fills the envelope with cold air. Once the envelope is cold packed with air from the fan, the pilot lights a propane burner, and heats up the air inside the balloon. With a few short squeezes of the burner, the hot air balloon stands upright, and is ready for launch. Typically, the entire inflation takes about 15 - 20 minutes.

What kind of hot air balloons do you use?

Seattle Ballooning uses french-inspired luxury hot air balloons. Our hot air balloons carry a maximum of 4 passengers, plus the pilot. Our balloons carry forty gallons of propane in steel tanks connected to a burner. Although we have had flights last over two hours, typical flights lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, and consume about 20 to 25 gallons of propane.

Where do hot air balloons land?

We frequently land on our friend's property. We have been flying in Enumclaw and Auburn for a long time, and have met many landowners. Folks in the Enumclaw Valley love hot air balloons, and most residents property owners are happy to have us land the balloon on their property. We look for properties that have access to the main road and do not have livestock. Ultimately, balloons travel with the wind, and don’t always end up at a place we have landed in the past. In that case, we chat with the landowner and after getting the “OK” invite them to partake in our post-flight champagne toast!

Do you need a license to fly a hot air balloon?

Yes. Hot air balloon pilots are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The lighter-than-air hot air balloon license is earned after extensive training, passing the FAA written test, and passing a flight test with an FAA examiner. Currently, there are just over 4000 hot air balloon pilots in the world.

How do you control where the balloon flies?

Balloons move at the same speed and direction as the wind. Hot air balloon pilots change altitude to find different layers of wind moving in different directions.

What altitude will we go up to?

The airspace around Seattle allows us to fly up to 5000ft. Typically when we fly just South of Seattle, we will end up fly at a max height of 3000ft. Often we will fly low just above the treetops and try to touch the water of the Green River or Lake Tapps. It’s a pretty amazing experience.

Why are flights at sunrise and sunset?

Besides the amazing photos you’ll get, weather conditions for ballooning are best just after sunrise and 2-3 hours before sunset.

How do you get back?

After the balloon is launched, our "chase crew" uses an app to follow the hot air balloon using GPS and track our speed, altitude, and direction. Of course, we also use radios to coordinate our landing plans. Between the GPS and radio communication, the crew is able to meet us as close to our landing spot as possible. After the hot air balloon is deflated and packed up, we will return you to your vehicle.

What should we wear? Does it get cold up at altitude?

Wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothing. You want to be able to easily and comfortably get in and out of the hot air balloon basket. At our max altitude, the temperature will only be a few degrees lower. Fortunately, you’ll have the heat of the burner to make up the difference. For sunrise hot air balloon flights, feel free to bring a light jacket. For our sunset hot air balloon flights, you’ll want to leave your jacket in the car.

Where do we launch the hot air balloon from?

Our launch spots are just a quick drive south from Seattle, in the city of Auburn. We have eight different launch sites, which allows us to fly regardless of the wind direction. Sometimes we launch from the north side of the Enumclaw Valley and fly over the Green River, and other times we fly from the south side of Lake Tapps over the White River. Whatever flight you get, you can be rest assured it will be breathtaking.