We lucked out, as it was the first day in over a week that they were flying due to wind conditions. It was a great experience, abosolutely stunning. On not scary at all (I have done bungee jumping and skydiving, and those WERE scary).
You can take your own pics with your phone when you are up there (I did), but note if you drop your phone, you are out of luck! They will also take pics of you from the ground as you pass by, and those also turned out great.
From what I gather, the pilots are independent contractors -- they show up, sign in, and are put on the roster to take people up. Both my pilot and my girlfriend's pilot were excellent. We had to wait about 30 minutes before it was our time to fly, and we were up there for about 20 minutes.