Good question, and it deserves a great answer
Weather Decisions. California Balloon Rides has been in operation for over 42 years. In all that time, we have never experienced an accident or incident. The main reason for this is lots of experience with weather and meteorology. Ballooning is very safe if you fly in the environment in which the balloon is made to fly in. Specifically, the balloon must fly in calm winds, no convection (up and down drafts), rain or fog. We adhere to a strict good flying weather policy. This policy has kept our passengers and pilots safe from harm. This is the reason responsible balloon pilots only fly in the morning when the wind is calm and moves horizontally. There is a safe balloon flying window from around 6AM to 8:30AM.
Pilot Experience. On the average our pilots have thousands of hours of flight experience and most of them fly more than one type of aircraft. Our Chief Pilot flies hot air balloons, airplanes, gliders, helicopters and airships (blimps). He is also an FAA Certified Pilot Instructor, and FAA Certified Aircraft Repair Technician. You can be assured that our pilots will keep you safe and entertained during your balloon flight.
Equipment. We fly balloon equipment from the largest hot air balloon manufacturer. This manufacturer invented the modern hot air balloon system in 1960. The balloon equipment is rugged and technically advanced. There has never been an accident due to equipment malfunction from this manufacturer. Because we have our own FAA Certified Aircraft Repair Station, all our equipment is kept in the best mechanical and cosmetic condition. This makes for a great photographic experience for our passengers. Our balloons have also been selected for over 150 film performances because of their beauty and great condition.
Vehicles. Our trucks that carry the larger balloons are custom built just for this purpose. The trucks are all 4WD Diesel Dually’s with large custom built flatbeds and lift gates. The trucks are designed to carry all equipment needed to launch, chase and recover our largest balloons without the burden of having to pull a trailer in sometimes challenging off road conditions. Our trucks, like our balloon equipment, are service in our repair station so that they are always in top shape and ready for action. Passengers travel in our 16 passenger vans from the short ride from the airport to the launch and recovery sites.
Training. We are one of only four FAA Part 141 Balloon Pilot Schools in the country. An FAA Part 141 School is a special pilot training school which is authorized to train pilots in fewer hours that what is required under the traditional FAA Part 61 of the FAR’s. This privilege is earned from the FAA through the development of a rigorous and comprehensive training syllabus. For this reason, our pilots are some of the most highly trained in the industry. No other hot air balloon company has the combination of: perfect safety record, highly experienced pilots, high quality aircraft and vehicles, in house aircraft repair station, in house FAA Part 141 Pilot School, and in house Special Effects department with performance experience in over 160 films.