April 26, 2012

Come fly away

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Saff
Photo by Cpl. Aaron Diamant

As someone who’s flown in just about every military aircraft I can, often hanging out the back or side to get photos, my expectations for the excitement of hot air ballooning over Yuma weren’t very high to start with.

I can admit when I’m wrong, and this was definitely one of those times.

Balloons Over Yuma might be pricey, at nearly $180 per person, but the ride is unlike any other I’ve been on.

Literally floating under the 160,000 cubic foot balloon Miss Guided Intelligence at nearly 1,000 feet in the air in near silence is an amazing feeling. Of course, they don’t tell you the name of the balloon until you’re in the air, but are quick to point out it’s three words.

There’s no loud droning of jets or turbo prop engines, just the morning breeze against you face.

The silence is only interrupted by occasional blasts from the burners to keep the air hot and the balloon in the air. But those blasts also shoot about 25 feet of flame straight up into the inside of the balloon, so it’s fun to watch!


Not being a fan of heights myself, I was amazed that I never felt like I was in any danger, partly due to the expert flying of chief pilot Colin Graham, who has been piloting balloons for more than 15 years. He’s flown in 30 states and five countries, to include Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, and China, and he’s one of only 13 balloon pilots in the world to fly over Inner Mongolia.

One thing that had me worried was the landing, there’s no landing gear or shock absorbing equipment of any kind, but once again, the expert piloting skills played in and we made a smooth landing after nearly 80 minutes of a wonderful flight along the Colorado River and over the west side of Yuma.

Since Yuma is one of the hottest cities in the U.S., they don’t fly during the summer, but go ahead and call to see if they have any spots left this season, or make reservations for the fall.

For anybody who has ever even thought about going on a hot air balloon ride, I can only think of two words, “Do it!” Seriously, you will not regret it!

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