Napa Valley Aloft
Travels and Escapes interview with the Kimball family…Jay, Jared, and Jayson
Take an early morning drive toward Napa and a common site is hot air balloons rising above the valley floor. Is there a better way for visitors and locals alike to catch fantastic views of rolling green hills, perfectly aligned vineyards, and eye-popping sunrises? I don’t think so. Just watching those huge, majestic balloons floating is enough to make me want to take a ride.
One special hot air balloon company, Napa Valley Aloft, has more than a stellar reputation dating back to the 1970s. This family-run business understands what it takes to fly the wind currents and find the landing spots, as well as have a great time with those who are flying with them. Their love of flying is obvious. But, so is their attention to detail and their conservative nature.
If the conditions aren’t good, they adjust. Early morning fog can cause them to launch from an alternate site in Pope Valley instead of the green area just north of V Marketplace in Yountville. Too much fog and they will cancel. It’s all about safety.
Their baskets hold up to 12 people. But, they prefer less so they can offer personal service. They like to meet their customers and actually spend time talking to them. You can tell the entire family loves what they’re doing.
All the pilots are FAA certified and all the equipment is inspected regularly at FAA designated repair stations. Jay Kimball started one of the balloon companies in Napa in 1976, adding several other California and Mexico locations. Glider pilot, turned balloon pilot, Jay was a true pioneer in this business.
In the United States, Napa Valley is one of the largest markets for hot air ballooning. According to Travel & Leisure Magazine, this is second only to New Zealand. And, it’s literally right in our back yard.
If you are looking for a magical way to experience Napa Valley, you really should try Napa Valley Aloft. It’s one of those things you just have to do…
As for me, I think we should also try San Miguel de Allende. The family operation is there, too, with daughter, Gretchen as the pilot.
If You Go: Visit their website nvaloft.com. Reservations can be made at 855-944-4408 and may need to be made well in advance. They are located in V Marketplace in Yountville. Check out their deals and specials and find out the best times to fly. Be sure to have an alternate plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Happy Flying…or Soaring