Balloon Rides Blog

Big News About Balloon Rides in Albuquerque – Phoenix – Scottsdale

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Special Shapes Sculpt the Sky

Rainbow Ryder’s owner, Scott Appelman, talks to the Albuquerque Journal about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s® special shape balloons and events.

Special shapes allow everyone to experience the magic of ballooning, Appelman says. “Unique to the fiesta in Albuquerque, people can walk around the balloons as they launch and land. The Special Shape Rodeos and glowdeos move people from watching to interacting. The balloons aren’t going anywhere. It’s the largest gathering of special shape balloons in the world.”

“In 1989 we had the first special shapes rodeos. That’s changed the face of Balloon Fiesta. It just blew up. There was so much excitement. It was a change of culture,” he says, adding it turned ballooning from a sport for pilots mostly, to an event that allowed observers to participate.

Special shapes are a larger commitment for owners, pilots and their crews, he explains. The aerodynamics are different for each shape and because of the extra fabric, they weigh more. They are more expensive and can fly fewer hours. A special shape balloon starts about $90,000 and can cost as much as an owner wants to spend with a median price of about $150,000, Appelman says.

Read the whole story at the Albuquerque Journal.


Teen Trades Open Road for Open Skies

KRQE features a story on Rainbow Ryders’ 16-year-old chase crew member Cameron Wall, soon to become a balloon pilot himself!

While most 16 year olds are just starting to drive, one 16-year-old is in the final stages of becoming a certified hot air balloon pilot. Cameron Wall took his first solo flight last month. It’s something he’s wanted to do for as long as he could remember.

“Every year, it was Balloon Fiesta time and I could remember being out on the field and loving it, seeing all the pilots having fun,” said Wall, a sophomore at Bosque School. “I just wanted to be one of them and enjoying it with them.”

Read the rest at KRQE


Get the Truth. Make an informed decision about your Fiesta ride!

Nothing rivals the power of the mass ascension from Balloon Fiesta® Park during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®, the World’s Largest Balloon Event. Below we have laid out the distinction between flights launching from Balloon Fiesta Park at the Balloon Fiesta® with Rainbow Ryders Inc. and flights launching from the Westside of Albuquerque.

Join Rainbow Ryders and its local expertise to experience and be part of the Fiesta instead of watching from 5-10 miles away!

What you experience when flying from Balloon Fiesta® Park with Rainbow Ryders!

  • Early Check-In time – assisting in the avoidance of heavy traffic.
  • With only one flight daily from the park – Your flight is the priority of our pilots and crew, leaving you with a more personalized, interactive and safe experience.
  • Launching over tens of thousands of cheering spectators below, you are the star of the show.
  • Enjoying your hour-long flight amongst 500+ balloons of all shapes and sizes.
  • Flying with FAA certified commercial pilots with thousands of combined flight hours and years of Balloon Fiesta® flying experience.
  • Flying with an Albuquerque-based company established over 31 years ago.
  • Flying with the only and official balloon ride operator of the AIBF 15 years running.
  • Launching with the impressive Sandia Mountains as your backdrop.
  • Experiencing local vendors and events around the park before and after your flight.

What you get from flights lifting off outside of the park

  • A distant view of Balloon Fiesta® park, taking pictures into the sun, almost eliminating photo opportunities of the Fiesta
  • A launch site with a minimum 4 mile distance from the Balloon Fiesta.
  • The potential to fly with a company not based in New Mexico. 50% of companies flying from the Westside are not local New Mexico Companies.
  • Doing 2 hops or more a morning. A hop is when passengers are loaded into the balloon for the first ride, and the 2nd hop gets into the chase vehicle to chase down the balloon. When it lands 30-45 minutes later the folks in the chase vehicle get into the balloon, change propane tanks and it takes off again. You could be 10 miles or further away from the Fiesta at this point. Then the second hop group takes off for their flight. At this point of the morning weather conditions are becoming more unstable and most likely will shorten this groups flight time. All this gives you less of a personalized experience and less flight time, 45 minutes max. You have missed the sight of the mass ascension in the distance and you are launching from a further distance from the park than the first flight.
  • No Bathroom facilities or concessionaires.
  • No other balloon ride companies are registered to fly in Balloon Fiesta airspace, so there’s the possibility of having your flight shortened or cancelled due to wind direction.

The qualifications to fly at the Balloon Fiesta®:

  • FAA approved Commercial pilots with 1000’s of hours of experience.
  • Verified FAA Equipment maintenance and annuals.
  • Fully licensed and insured for all balloons and vehicles, the highest in the country.
  • All RRI pilots have flown at the Fiesta and in the Albuquerque area for decades with over 75,000 hours of flight experience in balloons combined.

Our proven 31 years of experience is why the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® has chosen Rainbow Ryders, Inc. 15 years in a row as the Official Balloon Ride Operator at the event!

Flying out of Balloon Fiesta Park during Balloon Fiesta®, with Rainbow Ryders Inc. is the only TRUE way to experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®. #NMTRUE #RR1983.