Book a Flight Now! Napa Valley Balloons, Inc.
Napa Valley Balloons, Inc.

Our Pilots

The combined experience of the Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. pilots is well over 19,000 hours of flight in just hot air balloons alone, putting you in the hands of the most experienced balloon piloting staff in the Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Balloons, Inc has been seen on Oprah, Today, and The Travel Channel... Our commitment to safety and excellence even met the strict security criteria for Chelsea Clinton who joined Napa Valley Balloons, Inc for a morning of ballooning with pilot Bob Swanson above the beautiful Napa Valley. When going ballooning, why not fly with best?…. Come fly with us!



Established in 1980 and as the Napa Valley's oldest balloon company, Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. has been featured on many nationally syndicated programs and has been the company of choice for numerous notable personalities. All have chosen Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. for it's reputation and commitment to safety and excellence. 

You may have seen Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. flying NBC’s Today Show host Matt Lauer speaking to Katie Couric in their New York studio. It was evident that Mr. Lauer thoroughly enjoyed his balloon flight. We hope you had a chance to see the incredible coverage for yourself. P.S. Matt and his new fiancée returned to join us for their own private adventure...

Another Celebrity Flight! June 20, 2001:
Chelsea Clinton is the latest on a long list of notables from all walks of life who have chosen to fly with Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. while discovering and exploring our corner of the wine country. We are proud that our level of excellence met security criteria for Chelsea’s flight. A grand time was had by all!

How many of you caught the Oprah Winfrey Show on Wednesday, May 31, 2000?
Including Napa Valley as part of a show about great vacation spots, the show featured tour guide Tracy Gallagher, host on the Travel Channel. If you had watched, you would have discovered fun and interesting places for couples, families and singles. “Not Your Typical Vacation (Getaways for Two)” highlighted the Culinary Institute at Greystone and hot air ballooning above the Napa Valley. There we were – our Big Top in the center of things!

Celebrity Flight, July, 2004: 
In an installment of a special series, the Today Show travel editor Peter Greenberg took a three-day side-trip from San Francisco which included a hot air balloon flight in Napa Valley with Napa Valley Balloons, Inc.

ESPN Sports Channel – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Wine Country TV Series – Story about NVB, Inc.

Fine Living Channel – Radical Sabatical Story About NVB, Inc. pilot Don Surplus

Food Channel – Burt Wolf

Evening Magazine – Many features

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – Several Features

The Travel Channel – Many Features

and many more...



Our History

10 days after taking his first balloon ride for his 33rd birthday in 1978, pilot and founder Don Surplus purchased a balloon with four of his newfound converts. Together they started a flying club which they later named Napa Valley Balloons. Now over 30 years later and regarded as one of the premier hot air balloon companies in the U.S. Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. looks forward to sharing with you our spectacular valley and our passion for ballooning.

There were about 400 balloons in the U.S. at that time, making ballooning a very unique and curious activity. Every time a balloon landed, the almost magical allure attracted countless people to the balloon site, many of them bent on using any means imaginable to convince the pilot to take them for a flight.

It wasn’t long before Napa Valley Balloons took on a life of its own as a business venture. In 1980, it incorporated. Today, Kim Kleist and Gabe Gundling are the proud pilots and owner-operators of what is regarded as one of the finest hot air balloon companies in the U.S. Their personal experience spans flights in the U.S. and Europe and seventeen years attendance at the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival.

With Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. as the flagship of the industry, more people are flown in Napa Valley than any other flight corridor in the world. To its credit, Napa Valley is recognized the world over for fine wines, culinary excellence, and hot air ballooning – Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. is proud to have played an instrumental part in building that recognition



An Abbreviated History of Ballooning

  • September 19, 1783 ~ A sheep, a duck, and a rooster become the first passengers in a hot air balloon launched by the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Ettienne.
  • November 21, 1783 ~ The first recorded manned flight in a hot air balloon took place in Paris. Built from paper and silk by the Montgolfier brothers, this balloon was piloted on a 22 minute flight by two noblemen from the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
  • January 19, 1784 ~ In Lyon, France, the only recorded flight by Joseph Montgolfier was made in one of the largest balloons ever made.
  • September 15, 1784 ~ An Italian, Vincenzo Lunardi, made the first balloon flight outside of France. The 500 cubic metre balloon flew from Moorfields in England and landed near Ware.
  • November 30, 1784 ~ Launching their balloon from Rhedarium Garden, London, another Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, and an American, John Jeffries, make their first flight.
  • January 7, 1785 ~ the same team of Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries became the first to fly across the English Channel.
  • January 9, 1793 ~ the first flight of a balloon in North America occured in Philadelphia and was piloted by Jean-Pierre Blanchard.
  • October 10, 1960 ~ the official birth date of the modern hot-air balloon. The first man-carrying free flight took place at Bruning, Nebraska, in the Raven prototype ‘modern’ hot-air balloon. The 30,000 cu ft envelope was constructed of a polyurethane coated nylon and the burner was propane powered.
  • By 1963, the growing sport was able to sustain the first U.S. national championships.