AZ Air Ventures: Welcome Home...

Our Passion for

Ballooning started in 2007 when Susan became part of a hot air balloon chase team in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She fell in love with ballooning, and over the next eight years, crewed for various pilots. Her ultimate dream was to own a hot air balloon, but once she flew over the Gila Valley with friend and pilot Steve Adams, she was determined to make her dream come true.

Greg, who had been a fixed-wing pilot for 38 years, passed his lighter-than-air commercial pilot’s written test, then attended an FAA-certified Part 141 school in Park City, Utah. Under the guidance of some of the best pilots in the industry, Greg received intense and rigorous flight instruction. He practiced flying hot air balloons daily until he could demonstrate the knowledge and skill necessary to pass the oral and practical exams. He was certified as a commercial lighter-than-air pilot by Mike Bauwens, an amazing pilot, instructor, and FAA designated pilot examiner.

Upon returning to the Gila Valley, we began flying, almost daily. While we enjoyed taking family, friends, and crew on rides, we realized there was a strong interest from others wanting to ride in a hot air balloon. As long-time residents of Safford, we are thrilled to share our love for ballooning with residence of the Gila Valley. We hope AZ Air Ventures helps others experience the same love for ballooning that was shared with us many years ago.


What makes a hot air balloon fly?

It's very simple actually. Since hot air rises, we heat the air inside the balloon to a temperature that is hotter than the ambient temperature around the outside of the balloon. Because hot air rises, the balloon does too!

How big is the balloon?

Just Ducky is 75 feet tall (about seven stories) by 55 feet wide and holds 90,000 cubic feet of air. Floating Awaysis is 80 feet tall (about eight stories) by 60 feet wide and holds 105,000 cubic feet of air.  Just image filling the envelop with 90,000 or 105,000 soccer balls. Mathematically, it has the same area inside as the cabin and luggage area of three 747's.

What kind of cloth is the hot air balloon made of?

Our colorful envelopes are made of as special Ripstop nylon. This is the same type of cloth that parachutes are made of. It is very tightly woven and is coated with a material that makes it airtight. The nylon is only used to keep the hot air in the balloon. The basket load is transferred by steel cables to a series of vertical load tapes which carry the load. Balloons range in size from about 54,000 cubic feet for a one or two-person balloon to over 450,000 cubic feet for a balloon capable of carrying a pilot plus twenty-four (or more) passengers. Just Ducky is 90,000 cubic feet and can carry the pilot and four passengers while Floating Awaysis is 105,000 cubic feet and can carry the pilot and five passengers.

How do you get the balloon inflated?

As part of your adventure, we encourage you to help with inflation and deflation. When else will you have an opportunity to participate in such a unique experience? First we assemble the basket setting upright poles onto the basket and then setting the burner and frame onto the poles. Cables from the basket connect to the burner frame securing it in place. Fuel hoses are then connected from the burner to the propane tanks inside the basket.  We set the basket on its side, connect the envelop to the cables, and then use an inflater fan to blow cool air into the balloon. The air causes the balloon to open and grow larger as it fills while it is still laying on its side. Once the envelop is sufficiently filled with cool air (cold packed), the pilot uses the burners to warm the air inside the balloon which will then causes the balloon to rise to an upright position lifting the basket to a standing position. Once fully upright, passengers will be asked to climb into the basket.

How do you get into the basket?

Our hot air balloon baskets do not have doors, but they do have a small foot hole. Basically you use the foot hole to step up, grab ahold of the bar above you, then you swing your leg over the side of the basket and step down onto the bottom of the basket pulling the other leg in after. Honestly, it's not graceful, but it gets you in. Of course our crew will be right there to help you.  If you need additional help getting into the basket, we can provide a small step ladder upon request.

How many people fit in a balloon basket?

AZ Air Ventures is a small balloon ride company specializing in individualized experiences so we offer rides for two to five passengers per balloon. How many we can fly depends on the total weight of the passengers rather than how many will "fit" inside the basket. The balloon can only lift a certain amount of weight depending on the temperature outside and the elevation from which we launch. Therefore, we must have an accurate accounting of all passenger weights so we can configure the load capacity of the balloon for a safe flight. Because we have two balloons and pilots, we can take two separate groups of passengers at the same time.

Why is the basket made of wicker?

The wicker basket has proven to be very strong, is light so it doesn't take away from total weight of the payload, and it is flexible. The wicker is woven around an aluminum frame, which helps to support the upright posts upon which the burner is mounted. The top rim of the basket and the uprights are padded and covered in leather.

What kind of fuel is used for the burners and how do they work?

To heat the air, the burners are fueled by propane gas, the same as you probably use in your backyard barbecue grill. We carry three, 15-gallon propane tanks in each basket. The burners do not run continuously; they are only used intermittently to heat the air to maintain the required lift. The pilot will usually utilize the vapor burners which takes the propane gas through a series of coils warming it up into a vapor before it shoots into the flame. This is a bit louder but results in a more efficient heat production. When flying over livestock or when doing a glow at night or flying during dawn patrol before the sun rises, the pilot will utilize the liquid burners bypassing the coils and shooting pure liquid propane into the flame rather than vaporized propane. This results is a brighter, prettier flame but it is less efficient. An average-size home uses 100,000 BTU to heat it. Our hot air balloon burners use between 14 to 18 MILLION BTU in every blast! That's a lot of hot air!

How are balloon pilots licensed?

The Federal aviation Administration controls ballooning with the same strict regulations that apply to airplanes. Balloons are licensed as federal aircraft and must pass airworthiness checks each year or every 100 hours of flight. These inspection are completed by FAA authorized maintenance personnel. All pilots must be certified by the FAA after passing written, oral and practical tests as well as completing the required hours of flight training time. In addition, all pilots have to pass regular flight reviews every two years. Pilots must first become private pilots, then they can take an additional serious of written, oral and practical test in addition to required hours of flight training to become commercial pilots. Greg and Susan Lindsey, the pilots of AZ Air Ventures, are both licensed as commercial pilots. Because of this extended training, commercial pilots are also licensed to train student pilots.
928-965-6970 / 928-965-3222