If you are considering a hot air balloon ride it would be wise to consider all hot air balloon operators and what they offer.
At Fly Away Ballooning we are committed to ensuring that our prospective passengers are informed of all available options when searching for balloon rides. While we are confident that our own hot air balloon rides are the best in the industry, we have also compiled a list of the now top 10 hot air balloon ride companies in the South of England to help you better understand the market.
Firstly we must mention ourselves! FAB is co-founded by Hugo, a third generation balloonist who's grandmother and father were two ballooning pioneers. His grandmother Lady Gwen was instrumental in bringing ballooning to the United Kingdom and his father Giles has always been widely regarded as one of the most experienced balloonists in the world. You can read more about our story here.
We offer both private and shared hot air balloon rides throughout the South of England. We fly smaller groups which makes for a far more personal and enjoyable experience.
2, Bailey Balloons - Now Virgin Balloon Flights.
Bailey balloons are a long established Bristol based hot air balloon rides operator. A family run business of which Clive and Jo Bailey are celebrating over 27 years in the industry. They offer balloon rides in Bristol, Bath and South Wales. Bailey balloons have won several awards in the past such as the ‘Access for All’ award at the Bristol tourism and hospitality awards. Bailey balloons are well known in Bristol for offering shared hot air balloon rides from Ashton Court and other local balloon launch sites such as Westonbirt Arboretum and Royal Victoria Park. They currently fly the Anana hot air balloon and have used it for aerial work for the BBC. Bailey Balloons balloon rides are in larger rides balloons carrying up to 16 passengers.
3, Virgin Balloons
Virgin balloon flights are of course an iconic hot air balloon rides company flying their big red balloons across the United Kingdom. They are the UK’s only nationwide balloon ride operator with more than 100 launch sites. With many pilots flying in many regions of the UK you can never be far from a Virgin Balloon Ride location. Their big red balloons carry up to 16 passengers.
4, Fly Navy Ballooning
Fly Navy Ballooning is a new commercial hot air balloon operator in the South West. Rob started out as a fighter pilot before becoming a Virgin Atlantic Captain. He has flown many different aircraft and started flying balloons over 15 years ago. Offering private hot air balloon rides in Somerset you will be flying in the Royal Navy Balloon.
5, Aerosaurus Balloons - Now Virgin Balloon Flights.
Aerosaurus balloons have provided champagne hot air balloon flights to over 100,000 passengers over the South West. They are the largest hot air balloon rides operator in the South West of England. Aerosauraus balloons are now a sister company of Bailey Balloons and they offer balloon rides over Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Mid and East Devon, South Devon and Cornwall. Their main business is flying larger passenger hot air balloons with up to 16 in the basket per flight.
6, Elite Air
Elite Air Ballooning have been flying for over 15 years and mainly offer hot air balloon rides over Bristol and Bath. Their main pilot Matt gained his private pilots license at the age of 19 and his commercial just 18 months later. Another family business, his father Clive Wiltshire handles operations. Their two main balloons are the Polar Bear Windows Balloon and the Cash 4 Cars balloon. Elite Air fly smaller balloons and offer a more exclusive feel than the large 16 passenger hot air balloons
7, First Flight Hot Air Balloon Rides.
First Flight Hot Air Balloon Rides have been providing champagne balloon flights in the local area for over 25 years. The company is operated by Nick Dunnington, a very experienced local pilot with a family history of hot air ballooning. First Flight Hot Air Balloon Rides fly in three main areas Bristol, Bath and The Chew Valley. They flyer smaller passenger balloons with a maximum of 8 passengers. Two of their most frequent flown hot air balloons are the Thatchers Cider Balloon and Tribute Balloon.
8, Sky High Ballooning
Sky High Ballooning offer Champagne Balloon Flights over Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire. It was launched in 2018 by Chief Pilot Phil Hooper. Phil is a very experienced Bristol pilot who has been flying for many rides companies in the last few years and a special shape hot air balloon for Chubb in the shape of a fire extinguisher! Sky High Ballooning offer exclusive balloon rides and hot air balloon flights at several uk hot air ballooning festivals such as Bristol Balloon Fiesta and Midlands Air Festival. Sky High Ballooning currently fly the Poplar Insulation Balloon and Illusion Fireworks Balloon. Sky High fly smaller balloons carrying a max of 6 passengers.
9, Atmosphere Hot Air Balloons
Atmosphere Balloons was started by Jonathan Greatrix, relatively new to ballooning Jonathan gained his Commercial License in what is thought to be record time. Atmosphere hot air balloons offer exclusive balloon flights in Hampshire and hot air balloon wedding and event tethering. They also operate the special shape Buddy Balloon which is seen flying at UK and international balloon fiestas. Atmosphere balloons are based in Winchester but offer balloon rides across Hampshire and surrounding counties flying smaller balloons.
10, South West Balloon Flights - Now Virgin Balloon Flights.
South West Balloon Flights are also now operated by Bailey Balloons meaning that Bailey Balloons, Aerosaurus Balloons and South West Balloon Flights are run by Clive and Jo Bailey who have been operating Balloon Rides for over 27 years. South West Balloon Flights offer air balloon rides in Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon & Cornwall. They also fly larger rides hot air balloons carrying up to 16 passengers.
As of 2023 Bailey Balloons, Aerosaurus Balloons & South West Balloon Flights are now operated under Virgin Balloon Flights. For more information please read this article.