Balloon Nevada is a small balloon ride business based in Gardnerville, Nevada. (Map) We do not operate a fleet of balloons or fly large groups of passengers. Instead, we focus on private, scenic pleasure flights, catering primarily to couples, but we'll occasionally accommodate three passengers per flight. That's it. Safety is our top priority, so we fly ONE flight per day, ONLY in the early morning hours (see meeting times) when the air is most stable, and ONLY weather permitting. (What is weather permitting?)
*Weather permitting means:
Surface winds less than 5mph, ridge top winds less than 30mph, NO strong east winds aloft, NO strong north winds aloft, NO precipitation (rain, snow), 5 or more miles visibility (no smoke, fog), at least a 5,000' ceiling, and NO thunder storms within 100 miles. These are the minimums we've placed on ourselves for flying in the Carson Valley. They are above and beyond what the Federal Aviation Regulations (written by the FAA) mandate. These minimums must be met from sunrise until 4 hours after sunrise, or the flight for that morning will have to be canceled.
- May 01-15 : Meets at 06:30 am
- May 16-31 : Meets at 06:15 am
- Jun 01-30 : Meets at 06:00 am
- Jul 01-30 : Meets at 06:00 am
- Aug 01-15 : Meets at 06:15 am
- Aug 16-31 : Meets at 06:30 am
- Sep 01-15 : Meets at 06:45 am
- Sep 16-30 : Meets at 07:00 am
- Oct 01-15 : Meets at 07:15 am
- Oct 16-31 : Meets at 07:30 am
- Nov 01-15 : Meets at 07:00 am
About your pilot
Your pilot will be me, Whit Landvater. I have over 35 years of commercial ballooning experience and thousands of hours logged operating balloons in 100+ different cities, towns and communities across 40 of the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, (and two landings in France). More...
I migrated to northern Nevada from Albuquerque, New Mexico over 20 years ago, and have concentrated my ballooning efforts to the Lake Tahoe / Carson Valley area ever since. Prior to that, I flew balloon pleasure flights and flight training in Albuquerque, and corporate flights across the country for several national and international brands as well as regional, and have flown a dozen different specially shaped balloons and over a hundred different "conventional" balloons ranging from 42,000 cu ft to 240,000 cu ft in size.
Ballooning is and has been a major part of my life for almost 40 years, but I've kept ballooning from being the only thing in my life or the sole source of income. Why? For the simple reason that I don't want to EVER put myself in the position of saying "the weather doesn't look 'that' bad, I bet we can sneak in a flight" just because I need the money. Therefore, when I'm not flying or preparing for my next flight, I can be found sitting behind a computer building web sites (like this one), creating magazine ads, business cards, logos and brochures at
Chronic Web Design.
How high do you go? You'll experience everything from "tree top" level to maybe as high as 5,000', depending on the direction and speed of the wind on the day of the flight. The views are spectacular no matter what the altimeter says. Bring an attitude for altitude.
How long is the flight? The balloon ride is at least one hour long. Looking at the logbook, 1.25 hours is the average, but there are a couple 2+ hour flights in there too. Please plan on at least three hours for the entire adventure.
What about kids? The minimum age is 7 years old, and all kids must be at least 48" tall in order to see out of the basket. Kids younger than 7-8 have a short attention span and can't seem to be "still" for an hour. This often ruins the experience for the accompanying adults. Save your money and get a baby sitter.
What to wear? Ballooning is an outdoor activity. Dress as if you were going for an early morning hike. Sunrise IS the coldest part of the day around here, then it warms up quickly (even in the winter), so dress in layers for the temperature on the ground as you head out the door. It WILL NOT be any colder in the air then it is on the ground, so if you are comfortable (warm) on the ground, you will be fine in the air. Plan on being outdoors for 3 - 4 hours, so wear:
- comfortable shoes or boots (we love them, but please NO high heals or flip flops)
- coat / jacket / sweater that you can take off as it warms up
- gloves if it's cold
- hat / ball cap / sunglasses (the sun IS pretty intense up there)
What do you do up there? Well, we just hang out under the fire and watch the world go by under our feet! There's something about being above the ground, even if it's just a few feet, that everyone finds very intriguing. Unlike flying over water, our scenery changes by the minute. We may be over a school waving at children, then five minutes later, we may be flying between the trees six inches above the Carson River.
With all the changing scenery, taking photographs / videos is the probably #1 activity taking place in the basket. #2 would probably be sitting back (yes, we have a seat) wondering why they haven't done this sooner. You're actually free to do pretty much anything you want up there - within reason.** Please ask first.
** 1) is not illegal, 2) does not offend, disturb, injure or kill anyone in the basket or on the ground, 3) does not include hanging, dangling, jumping, swinging, shooting, throwing things from the basket, 4) stays withing the confines of the basket.
Do you provide brunch, breakfast or snacks? No. If we served steak and eggs with hash browns and toast after each flight, 90% of our guests would end up being vegetarians. If we served granola bars and yogurt, 90% of our guests would complain that they didn't get steak and eggs. We've learned to stick with what we know, and that our guests - you - would be better off going for a nice private breakfast after the flight (in one of our many local restaurants) than pay a marked up price for a flight that "included" breakfast.
How many people are in the basket? Our balloon will comfortably carry a pilot plus three passengers, providing views and elbow room for everyone. Once we book a flight for two, we consider that flight full.... we won't sell that third place. No other balloonist on the planet will do that.
Why don't you carry more than three passengers? We love people, we just don't like a lot of them all in one place. Maybe we're demophobiacs? Most northern Nevadans will probably agree that "no crowds" is the #1 reason for living here.
Another reason is because the more humans you stuff into a confined space, the more likely you are to have unsatisfied customers, and we really hate drama.
We can remember the names of two or three guests, but there's no way in hell we'll remember a dozen or more names.
What if there are more than three of us? Sorry, but we can't accommodate more than three, but our friends at Lake Tahoe Balloons sure can. Tell them we sent you (and we may get a free lunch out of them).
I want to propose to my girlfriend / boyfriend / partner in a balloon. Do I have to pay extra for a private flight for two? Nope! Once you book a flight for two, that flight is yours and considered full.
What is your cancellation policy? If you must cancel your reservation, we request the courtesy of at least 48 hours notice. Cancellations made within 24 hours or failure to show up on your scheduled date will result in a $250 no-show fee charged to your credit card (unless there is someone else standing around that is willing to pay for your place).
Do you fly in Reno? No. Nobody flies balloons in Reno except during four days in September.
Can we fly with you in the Reno Balloon race? No, sorry. The Reno Balloon requires participating balloonists to "give one ride for two people (sponsors) each day of the event" - six passengers total in exchange for propane, one hotel room and a jacket. For balloonists, that's like requiring the monkeys and elephants to pay Barnum and Bailey to be in their show. We do not participate.