Our Hot Air Balloon Ride Operations
Hire the best people, provide them the best hot air balloons and equipment, emphasize safety and customer service, and then stand back and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that for the thousands of guests that Calistoga Balloons flies each year, the highlight of their Napa Valley vacation was their hot air balloon flight.
Aviation enthusiast Robert Allen earned his wings as a commercial hot air balloon pilot flying visitors above the Napa Valley in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. After developing a strong understanding of Napa Valley’s distinct geography and unique wind conditions, Bob decided to venture north in 2002 to start his own hot air balloon ride business in the Napa Valley's charming town of Calistoga. It was time to make his childhood dream of owning his own hot air balloon company a reality.
Equipped with years of aviation experience piloting hot air balloons rides in Napa, and a keen understanding of local weather conditions, he took to the skies to blaze a new trail over the tranquil, picturesque town of Calistoga, California. Since its inception, Calistoga Balloons has flown thousands of wine country travelers looking to reconnect and restore their mind, body and soul.
After 14 successful years of happily flying northern Napa Valley, Bob decided to retire in 2015 and sell Calistoga Balloons to Gabe Gundling, owner of Napa Valley Balloons and founder of Balloon Pacific. With Gabe’s leadership in place, and the U.S.’s greatest team of skilled pilots and crew behind him, Bob could rest easy knowing that the Calistoga community was in great hands and that Calistoga Balloons would continue to offer one of the best hot air balloon rides in California.
To this day, Calistoga’s dedicated family of pilots and crew make up the only hot air balloon ride team to fly the Calistoga Corridor and call northern Napa Valley their home. Armed with fresh enthusiasm and state-of-the-art equipment, they continue to take great pride in preserving the past while pioneering the next generation of hot air balloon travel.
Armand O’Conner: Pilot – Armand took his first flight when he was 19 after starting his ballooning career as balloon chase crew. This is all it took for him to get hooked. By 22 he had earned his private balloon pilots license and shortly after that his commercial license. Born and raised in Sonoma County, Armand delights in sharing the sights and highlights of his native community with his guests daily.
Jeff Spear: Pilot – Jeff comes from a family rooted in flying and is proud to carry on their decades long tradition. Not only is Jeff a hot air balloon pilot, but he is an airplane pilot as well. While Jeff has had the opportunity to fly balloons coast to coast and even internationally, Northern California and Sonoma’s beautiful corridor has always held a special place in his heart and he’s happy to call Sonoma his home. When folks ask what he likes to do when he’s not flying, his response doesn’t shock us...“dreaming about flying!”
Calistoga Balloons flies only the safest and best equipment on the market! Our customers will enjoy a flight above the valley floor in one of our colorful state-of-the-art balloons that range in size from 140,000 cubic ft. to 315,000 cubic ft. Along with our pilot, we can accommodate anywhere from 2 – 16 guests depending on the balloon. All guests will fly in comfort with unobstructed views, ideal for capturing those perfect, panoramic photos!
(Calistoga Balloons Only Offers Private Flights, based on availability. NO join-in flights are available at this location.)