These guys take hot air ballooning very seriously. They make it a fun experience but they also pay a lot of attention to the safety of the flyers. I had no idea that piloting a hot air balloon required a license from the FAA, just like piloting an airplane does. Our pilot, Randy was very experienced and very much in command of the balloon and the flight. He and the rest of the Rainbow Ryders staff were friendly, professional and very personable.
The flight itself was an awesome experience. If you've never flown a hot air balloon, I highly recommend going with Rainbow Ryders. You really get a complete experience with watching (and participating in, if you're so inclined) the preparation of the balloon before flight, taking the flight itself, participating in the disassembling of the balloon after the flight and champagne and snacks at the very end (which comes a cool story about why the champagne is a tradition that I won't spoil here).
Flights generally last about 45 mins to an hour and the whole experience from beginning to end is about 3 - 4 hours.
My flight was smooth and uneventful, which is a good thing. There really is no better way to get a 360 degree view of Albuquerque - and what a view it is. Truly breathtaking.
Hot air balloon flights, understandably, are dictated almost entirely by which way the wind happens to be blowing so I imagine there is a cool sense of improvisation and uniqueness to each flight. Hot air balloons also seem to drive dogs crazy because as we floated over a residential part of Albuquerque we heard non-stop barking from almost every dog in the neighborhood which was very amusing to all of us on the flight. It was also funny to see some of the dogs try to chase after us and jump up and down as if they were trying to catch us.
Overall, it was a very unique and enjoyable experience - one that I would highly recommend - and the first rate service by Rainbow Ryders make them a top choice for anyone looking to give hot air ballooning a try.
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