Up & Away Ballooning

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About Us

Up & Away Ballooning has delighted in sharing Sonoma's spectacular wine country views for over two decades. We pride ourselves in our impeccable safety record and in being Sonoma County's safest balloon company option. With safety and customer service as our core value, our goal is to create an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime!

Our Pilots

Pilot: David Dunrud

David has been around balloons all his life. With his aunt a balloon pilot, he was introduced to ballooning at 2 years old. By age 11 his ballooning career had started as a crew member. As soon as he was old enough to take the test, David became a balloon pilot and has enjoyed it ever since. Growing up in Sonoma County, he enjoys sharing its beauty from above. When he’s not ballooning, David is a volunteer Firefighter/EMT for his local community.

Pilot: Armand Oconnor

Armand took his first flight when he was 19 after starting his ballooning career as balloon chase crew. This is all it took for him to get hooked. By 22 he had earned his private balloon pilots license and shortly after that his commercial license. Born and raised in Sonoma County, Armand delights in sharing the sights and highlights of his native community with his guests daily.

Pilot: Daniel Claudon

Daniel started his ballooning career in 1987 flying hot air balloons above the Napa Valley. Since then he has flown in Canada, various places on the African continent including Egypt and many wonderful years living his dream of flying over the wildlife of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. While in Tanzania, Daniel served as the chief pilot for Serengeti Balloon Safaris until his return to North American ballooning. Since his return, Daniel has flown extensively in both Sonoma and Napa Counties.

Russ James: Pilot
– As a long time local hot air balloon pilot, Russ has an intimate knowledge of how to fly balloons in the region. A regular at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Russ shares his passion for ballooning with his passengers and with his family. Both his wife and daughter are balloon pilots as well. When not flying balloons, Russ keeps up the family farm. 

Our Balloons

Up & Away Ballooning flies only the safest and most reliable equipment on the market! Our customers will enjoy a flight above the valley floor in a colorful state-of-the-art balloons that range in size from 150,000 cubic foot to 315,000 cubic foot!. While they are designed to carry more guests, we limit our baskets to a pilot and anywhere from 2 – 16 guests depending on the size of the balloon. All of our balloons are well maintained and regularly undergo inspection to ensure continued airworthiness.

History of Ballooning: An Abbreviated History