Frequently Asked Ballooning Questions

What types of balloon flights do you offer?

We offer sunrise flights from Temecula – a beautiful inland wine country area of Eastern San Diego county and sunset flights from Del Mar which provide coastal views of the Pacific Ocean and the Northwestern areas of the county.  The specific times and locations of the flights are determined by the prevailing winds in the area.

How long is the flight?

Visiting Los Angeles? Orange county? Riverside county?

Our Del mar and Temecula launch sites are just a quick ride to the south. In 45 to 90 minutes you can be at one of our scenic launch sites and enjoy the adventure of your life-time. San Diego county offers many tourist attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Seaworld, Balboa Park, Lego Land and some of the most scenic beaches in California. Temecula offers a host of wineries, vineyards, and the Pechanga Casino.

The flight, itself, is about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather and wind that day.  Due to the wind speed and direction, the length of time aloft can never be guaranteed.  The pre-launch meeting, balloon preparation, landing, pick-up, etc. add another 2 hours so you should allow a total of 3 to 3 1/2 hours for your tour, from the time you arrive, until you leave.

What if I'm in Los Angeles, Orange County or Riverside Counties?

From Los Angeles expect a 90 to 130 minute ride to Del Mar. Orange County might be as close as 40 minutes. Many people visiting the Los Angeles area spend a few days in San Diego because it is full of entertainment value and it is a short ride with scenic views.

How much notice do I need to book a flight?

If you want to be sure of taking a tour on a particular day, it’s good to book flights about a week in advance.  Some times of the year are busier than others but if we have a cancellation, we may be able to fit you in on short notice.  Feel free to call us and ask. 

Where do we meet?

Launch points are near Temecula and Del Mar and depend on the specific weather conditions that day.  Detailed driving directions and arrival times for the appropriate meeting spot will be sent to you in advance of your flight.  After you arrive, you will receive a pre-flight briefing and then be driven, in our vans, to the actual launch site.

Preparing the hot air balloon in Rancho Sante Fe.

What time of day will we fly?

Del Mar flights meet about 2 1/2 hours before sunset. Temecula flights meet approximately at sunrise, (clock time varies seasonally).  When you book your tour the exact meeting time will be given.

How many people can fly at one time?

Baskets are designed for the correct size and weight by the balloon manufacturers to maximize flight efficiency and safety.  We use very sturdy European gondolas (baskets) that have high sides with padded compartments that provide secure and uncrowded comfort.  Everyone is assured a great view.  Basket sizes vary so that we can easily handle groups up to 12.  For bigger groups, we will use multiple balloons.  Single guests, couples, families and larger groups can all be easily accommodated.

What should I wear?

Passengers should wear comfortable clothing such as jeans and closed toe shoes that are comfortable for walking, such as boots or sneakers.  Open toed sandals and high heels should not be worn. Shorts are not recommended and dresses may make it difficult for ladies to climb into and out of the basket. In colder months, layered clothing is advisable. Hats, if worn, should be those that can be secured with a strap (Anything that gets dropped over the side is not retrievable.)  Don't forget to bring your still or video camera!

filling the balloon

How high will we go?

Most passenger flights are between 1000 feet and 2,500 feet off the ground.  This will offer, depending on where you are flying, beautiful panoramic vistas of Temecula Wine Country or scenic Del Mar and the Pacific Ocean.  During landing, the balloon might skim across the trees and fields before coming to its final stop.

What happens during the hot air balloon ride?

During the ride we offer complimentary champagne and other non-alcoholic beverages.  You are free to take in the incredible views, enjoy the quiet, listen to the wind, talk with your fellow passengers, take pictures or videos, and ask the pilot questions about what you are seeing and about the operation of the balloon.

How safe is hot air ballooning?

Our balloons are regularly inspected and maintained at a Federal Aviation Administration (the same agency that oversees airplane safety) certified repair station.  All of our equipment is always kept in top operating condition and we offer the safest and most reliable ballooning experience available.  Skysurfer Balloon Company has been in business for over 30 years and is family owned and operated.  Most of our pilots have been trained directly by us and have been with the company since it was started.  Unlike some businesses, we are not a broker or middleman that arranges balloon rides with other companies.  Any tour you arrange with us will be provided solely by our well trained people.  The goal of all our friendly and professional staff is to give you a great, memorable and safe adventure.

Are age and health a consideration?

Our flights are not recommended for children under 6 years of age and adults in poor health. Some health exceptions can be made with a written note from the passenger’s physician. Other considerations include: pregnant women, people with bones having metal pins that prevent good range of motion, osteoporosis, recent major surgeries, and individuals with certain health and mobility problems. Passengers must stand during the entire flight and need some agility to get in and out of the balloon basket. The baskets are not designed by the manufacturer to accommodate wheelchairs or other similar aid devices. A bumpy landing is possible. Safety will always be our number one priority.  Please discuss any concerns you have, with one of our knowledgeable representatives, before you make your reservation.

a balloon rider enjoys the view

How do you steer the hot air balloon?

A balloon cannot be steered left or right.  Winds blow in different directions at different altitudes, so the pilot steers the balloon by changing altitude to find a wind that will take it in the desired direction.

How do hot air balloons fly?

Hot air balloons operate on the basic principles of gravity and heat transfer. The propane burners warm the air inside the balloon to as much as 250 degrees Farenheit, thus allowing the pilot to take the balloon up to whatever altitude he or she desires. Gravity pulls us back to earth as the temperature cools down. The pilot can continue heating the air to prolong the flight or to control the rate of descent.

Why do hot air balloons fly only in the late afternoon or early mornings?

The air is almost always at its most stable point early in the day or late in the afternoon, giving the passengers longer rides and more favorable landing conditions.

What material is the hot air balloon itself?

The balloon itself, or the envelope as it is called, is typically made up of a specially coated, rip-stop nylon. In some balloons the envelope is made of Dacron.

view of a neighborhood from the balloon

How does being made out of wicker help the basket?

Wicker is a lightweight yet sturdy material that allows a good amount of flexibility and is aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

What is a hot air balloon fueled by?

The same air we breathe is captured within the balloon and is then heated by multiple burners fueled by either propane or butane.

How big do hot air balloons get?

The largest balloons that are commercially operated are as big as six hundred thousand cubic feet in size. However the average sized commercial hot air balloon in the United States ranges from one hundred and eighty thousand to two hundred thousand cubic feet.  This size provides plenty of lift and control and makes it easy to see from a distance.

Is it cold up in the air?

At the highest point in the ride, the air is not much cooler than on the ground, usually only 5 to 6 degrees difference.  

Do you only fly during certain months?

No, we provide hot air balloon rides year round in most of the flying areas.  Occasionally, weather conditions may limit where we can launch from.

sunset from the balloon

Can family or friends follow in their vehicles?

Generally no, because most of the launch sites are on private property where we have agreements as to limited access.  Also, it can be dangerous to try to drive and watch a hot air balloon at the same time.

Do I have to sign a waiver?

Yes, there is a risk in flying in any aircraft.  The majority of that risk is due to what cannot be predicted, such as the weather.  This is no different than signing the required waiver to go with a company that offers horseback riding.  

Does the company carry insurance?

Yes, we carry the state required $100,000 of coverage per passenger plus additional medical coverage.

What is the company’s safety record?

Skysurfer has a perfect safety record.  During the entire history of the company, we have had no crashes, no accidents and no injuries.  Your safety is our number one priority. 

What if I am afraid of heights?

Unlike standing on a cliff or on the edge of a building, you will not suffer from a feeling of vertigo. With the high sides of our baskets and the sturdy floor you will have a very stable and safe feel. There is no motion, swaying, or vibration as the balloon moves with the wind. Persons who might suffer from motion sickness in a car or boat will not be bothered in a balloon.

What about a gratuity for the pilot and crew?

It is common practice to tip these hard working individuals. Like any personal service, if they do their job well, it shows your appreciation for their attention to detail. An appropriate amount would be from 8% to 10% and can be given to your pilot to share with the rest of the crew or you may add the gratuity to your credit card at check in time.

What happens once we land?

After stopping at the landing site, the pilot will direct you when and how to exit the basket.  The crew will then start packing up the hot air balloon while you are driven back to the place where you parked you car.

What if I have more questions?

Our experienced representatives can answer any question you may have before the flight and your pilot can answer them during the flight.


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Hot Air Balloon Rides offered in all of Southern California including Del Mar, San Diego and Temecula! Schedule your balloon flight today.