Destination California: Hot Air Ballooning over Lake Tahoe

This story appeared on Fox40 News

Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous place to visit with many activities for families and travelers to enjoy, but there’s one excursion not many people know about.

Visitors can hop on board a ship that has a special accreditation from the Coast Guard and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to launch hot air balloons from it.  

The Tahoe Flyer, docked at the Tahoe Keys Marina, is the world’s smallest aircraft carrier that’s recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard.  

“The entire operation is the only one in the world that does an entire balloon operation from a boat so that includes the inflation, deflation, launch and landing all from a boat,” said Captain Greg Collard with Lake Tahoe Balloons.

Capt. Greg Collard knows there’s one important factor when you’re preparing to set sail 7000 feet above Lake Tahoe.

“Respect the wind in Tahoe,” said Collard. “We’re very picky about what weather we’ll come out here with so we do tend to cancel more than other operations. We have 110 foot long balloon and a 100 foot boat, and if the wind changes on us, if the wind picks up on us, that could create problems.” 

“19 years, I’ve been flying for 19 years. I don’t have a day off for six months, I work from May to October, I don’t have a day off for 6th months,” said Pilot Sheldon Grauberger.  

Pilot Sheldon Grauberger uses popcorn to demonstrate the balloon’s decent speed.

“People love to throw it over the side and it falls 800 feet a minute and then while we’re coming down,” said Grauberger. “I’ll have them throw it again and the popcorn will be falling all around us.” 

At the end of the trip, the balloon is landed back on the Tahoe Flyer in the middle of the lake.

Visit their website for more information. 

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