August 2020 RACC Member of the Month: San Juan Balloon Adventures
Please tell us a little about the business and its staff.
San Juan Balloon Adventures has provided scenic hot air balloon flights over the Ridgway valley to guests from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries from around the world. Founded by Gary and Carolyn Woods in 1987, Gary has been the primary pilot while Carolyn spent several years as crew chief for the company. As each of their four children got a driver’s license, they became the new crew chiefs. More recently, numerous Ridgway residents and regional college students tend to the crewing duties.
How did the owners get into hot air ballooning?
Gary was introduced to ballooning during a 4th of July Festival in Montrose. Within a year of his 10-minute flight, he earned his commercial pilot license and secured a position as pilot for a scenic ride balloon business in Park City, Utah where he met Carolyn, who was assigned as his crew chief. Working successfully as a team, they decided to get married and start a business of their own.
What do Gary and Carolyn like best about the hot air balloon business?
Over the past 33 years, far beyond being a job, ballooning has always been a passion in their lives. That passion for the sport includes sharing the fascinating balloon experience with others. Whether it is a young first timer, a bucket list seeker or a seasoned Aeronaut, it is genuinely rewarding to see each person excited about the adventure.
Please tell us about a flight with San Juan Balloon Adventures.
Since the goal is personalized service, they try to limit flights to couples and small families...usually, no more than four passengers per flight. In order to share the complete experience of ballooning, every passenger is encouraged to be on hand for the entire process and invited to be an active part of the inflation and deflation if they choose. A flight will usually include a variety of altitudes from tree top level to several thousand feet above the ground. No ballooning experience would be complete without the company’s traditional Post-flight Champagne Celebration, which includes some interesting history of ballooning as well as a light brunch.
What is most unexpected about a hot air balloon flight in the San Juan Mountains?
Ballooning anywhere is extremely enjoyable; however, no place on Earth is there a more beautiful place to fly than next to the spectacular San Juan Mountains and over the lush green pastures of the Ridgway valley.
Do you have any customer specials coming up?
September only... save up to 20% on space-available flights. Call for details: 970-626-5495.
What do you value from being a Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce member?
As one of the founders of RACC, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with others who care about the quality of life and the prosperity of our small business community. I served on the board for many years and now appreciate the hard work and dedication of those who currently serve our business community. The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce has continued to be a valuable asset to Ridgway.