View from a hot air balloon looking north up the east shore of Lake Tahoe Nevada

Meet The Ballooning Staff

It has been said that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life... We're happy to report back that it's true!

Greg Collard

Boat Captain

Born and raised in Baltimore Maryland, Greg has enjoyed a passion for all things outdoors since a very young age. The grand California playground and landscapes drew him to Tahoe in 2008, a decision that has left him with no regrets. When he isn't captaining the Tahoe Flyer, you might catch a glimpse of him flying down Tahoe slopes on his snowboard or hiking the local mountains with his two dogs. Greg's Lake Tahoe Balloons career began as boat/balloon crew in 2010. After several years of training under one of the Lake's most experienced captains, he was promoted to boat captain in 2015 making him the full-time captain of the world's smallest aircraft carrier.

Sheldon Grauberger

Hot Air Balloon Pilot

A Las Vegas native, Sheldon began flying balloons in 2003 and has since amassed more than 2400 hours as a hot air balloon pilot. He has flown balloons of all shapes and sizes all over the world and is proud to have maintained a perfect safety record. Sheldon's passion for ballooning has taken him to balloon festivals around the globe including The Great Reno Balloon Race, Taiwan Balloon Festival, Cielo Magico in Santiago, Mexico, and The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM - recognized as the Olympics of ballooning. As a professional balloon pilot, he flew commercial balloon rides in Las Vegas before making the move to Lake Tahoe Balloons. With the spectacular Lake Tahoe views, the world's only hot air balloon aircraft carrier to land on and his undying passion for hot air ballooning, Sheldon looks forward to sharing this one-of-a-kind adventure with you!

Gabe Gundling

Hot Air Balloon Pilot

Born and raised in the Napa Valley. After watching and encouraging balloons to land on his parent's field as a child, Gabe swore he'd be a balloon pilot when he grew up. He began his ballooning career as chase crew with Napa Valley Balloons in 2003 and earned his commercial balloon pilot's certificate in 2004. After buying out the remaining partner in 2012, Gabe became the sole owner of Napa Valley Balloons, Inc.

Looking for an excuse to spend more time in Tahoe and having the confidence of knowing he had the industries best office and support staff, Gabe purchased Lake Tahoe Balloons in 2014. He now delights in sharing Lake Tahoe, one of the Earth's most scenic places, with guests from all around the world.

The Lake Tahoe Adventure begins here!
Season: Mid-May through mid-October - $349 Per Person - Book Now!
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Our story

"Charming crew, stunning vistas, amazing experience!" That's our story and we're sticking to it.

The history of Lake Tahoe Balloons

Originally established in 1992, Lake Tahoe Balloons has successfully operated balloon flights over Lake Tahoe for well over two decades. We are the only balloon ride operation in the world where the entire ballooning process begins and ends on the deck of a boat! Our one of a kind hot air balloon recovery vessel, the Tahoe Flyer was built specifically for the purpose of recovering hot air balloons.Lake

Tahoe Balloons was founded by Robert Allen (Bob) in 1992. Having flown in the growing Napa Valley wine region for several years, and being familiar with the challenges of a land based ballooning operation, Bob decided it was time to reinvent hot air ballooning. By flying over water and landing on a boat, Bob realized he could eliminate the hazards of power lines and other land based obstacles, rough landings in high winds and nearly all the navigational challenges of trying to steer a balloon to a fixed landing location. Having a landing platform that could match the speed and direction of the balloon eliminated the risks that a traditional land based operation faces.

The early days were tough. Finding investors that both understood ballooning and his vision were tough to come by. While his peers scratched their heads and wondered if he'd lost his mind, Bob and naval architect Zach Reynolds put their minds together to create the Tahoe Flyer.

Historic photo of hot air balloon inflating on a boat in Lake Tahoe.
Photo of a hot air balloon and the MS Dixie paddle wheel boat in Lake Tahoe California

Bob ultimately sold Lake Tahoe Balloons to Harley and Tammy Hoy in 2001. With decades of unrivaled marine experience, Lake Tahoe Balloons and the Tahoe Flyer were taken to a whole new level. Harley and his knowledge of the local weather and his familiarity with boats and the Coast Guard was able to find and make the changes necessary to the boat and business for Lake Tahoe Balloons to remain a safe and viable business. Through Harley's efforts and innovations, Lake Tahoe Balloons grew and thrived.

In 2014, Harley and Tammy decided it was time to do some traveling and enjoy retirement and sold Lake Tahoe Balloons to Gabe Gundling, owner of Napa Valley Balloons and founder of Balloon Pacific, one of the countries largest hot air balloon ride organizations. Harley remained with Lake Tahoe Balloons long enough to impart some of his wisdom before starting long awaited travels around the US and Canada.

Gabe and his team have ushered in a new era bringing with them a fresh passion and enthusiasm for hot air ballooning over Lake Tahoe. With decades of experience in Aviation, Marine and Hospitality Operations, each and everyone of our staff offers something unique and valuable to our company. With the help and dedication of our expert crew of local Tahoe enthusiasts, Lake Tahoe Balloons continues to push the standard for what ballooning can and should be.

The Lake Tahoe Adventure begins here!
Season: Mid-May through mid-October - $349 Per Person - Book Now!
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By air and by sea

Lake Tahoe Balloons proudly operates the world's only hot air balloon aircraft carrier.
Hot air balloon ready to launch from the Tahoe Flyer in Zephyr Cove Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side.

The Tahoe Flyer:

The Tahoe Flyer is a 21 ton, 120 x 22 foot, double decker, Catamaran Style aircraft carrier vessel. It was specifically designed and built to inflate and launch hot air balloons off of its upper deck. It is also currently the only vessel of its type in the World and is regulated under the US Coast Guard.  With speeds of up to 16 mph, the Tahoe Flyer acts as the hot air balloon's chase vessel, following the direction of the balloon as it makes it's way around the Lake. Catching the balloon and bringing her safely back down onto the upper deck of the Tahoe Flyer is a safe and effortless maneuver and a once in a lifetime sightseeing adventure.  It has been said by many of our guests that just actually watching the crew and the operations of inflating, launching, landing and deflating, is worth the trip all by itself! To further accommodate our guests, when you are not participating in the Hot Air Balloon activities on the upper deck, you may enjoy our continental breakfast and view our merchandise all set up on the lower deck. An area for relaxing, private bathroom and comfortable seating are all available to you downstairs.

Our hot air balloons:

Our state-of-the-art FAA certified hot air balloons are built by Cameron Balloons U.S., in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Considered to be the top U.S. manufacturer of hot air balloons, Cameron designs balloons that not only outperform those of competitors but that are also more durable. While foreign and other U.S. manufactures may offer a lower purchase prices, the comfort and knowledge that you are flying in the best that money can buy is priceless. Our balloons vary in size but our largest can carry as many as 16 passengers. The baskets are compartmentalized to maximize the space, comfort of and safety of each guest. They are constructed of rattan which is both light weight and extremely durable. Each basket is individually woven by hand onto a rigid frame. The envelope is typically constructed using fire-treated nylon or dacron that meet specific manufacturer requirements and while the material is lightweight, it is also very strong.