Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides Staff


The Kimball Family ballooning history goes back to the 1970s when Napa Valley was beginning to develop as a destination for wonderful wine and great restaurants. Tourism was on the rise and so were the first hot air balloon Napa companies! Jay Kimball was one of the first pioneers of commercial ballooning in Napa Valley and all will agree that Jay took ballooning to "new heights." Jay opened up new flight corridors in Lake Tahoe, Del Mar, Ca. and San Miguel de Allende Mexico. Adventure was just over the next horizon and the Kimball Family found many horizons to explore. Gretchen, Jayson and Jared jumped aboard the balloons with their father, Jay, and developed a deep understanding of the skills needed to find wind currents and landing spots. Jayson has been flying commercially since his 18th birthday, which was back in 1995. Gretchen began her commercial piloting in 1999 and Jared is flying in his spare time, while handling the marketing and special events for the company. The Kimball Family loves Napa Valley and enjoys sharing their stories and limitless knowledge of this spectacular valley with their guests aboard the balloons. There really is no better way to experience the magnificence of the Valley than from the vantage point of a hot air balloon. We invite you to come share this special experience with Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides.

Jayson, Jay, Gretchen, and Jared invite you to fly with Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides!

Jayson Kimball -Pilot- “If you’re the son of a balloon pilot, it is likely you will start flying at a very early age.” Jayson had an amazing 300 hours of balloon flight time when he completed his first solo hot air balloon flight at the age of 15. He became a commercial pilot three years later. Adventure is part of Jayson’s love for hot air ballooning and this has led him to find exciting locations to explore. Some of the highlights of his adventures have been flying over the Mayan Pyramids, remote beaches in Mexico, and the spectacular colonial cities in central Mexico. Jayson loves flying over Napa Valley and has spent 10 seasons flying with the largest company here. He is very excited about his latest adventure of owning his own balloon company, which offers the opportunity to bring all of his experiences to his guests and provide them with exceptional Napa Valley balloon rides.

Gretchen Kimball -Pilot- Gretchen also shares the passion for adventure and the excitement of the balloon flight. She has traveled extensively and flown in many of the locations that Jay has explored. Gretchen’s experience in ballooning compliments her devotion to painting. She is able to see details that have been fine-tuned with her piloting skills. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005, and has her own business Alla Prima Studios, where she provides landscape painting workshops in the Napa Valley. Gretchen loves flying with our Napa Valley hot air balloon rides clients, and adding her unique, artistic perspective to each flight.



Jared Kimball -Business Development & Marketing-  He owned his own Napa Valley tour company, and has years of experience in the luxury wine industry. This multifaceted experience greatly contributes to our ability to deliver exceptional service to our hot air balloon Napa clients. Jared’s attention to detail ensures our guests a well-planned event that will fulfill their dreams of having an experience that flows effortlessly. Jared’s enthusiasm for having a great time shows in his ability to work with people and enjoy their uniqueness. Jared is a pilot in training and enjoys flying with his siblings.

Jay Kimball -Pilot- Started one of the original balloon companies in Napa Valley in 1976. He is the adventure balloon pilot who pioneered many special locations for new balloon companies throughout California. “A Beautiful Morning,” Hot Air Balloon Company in Del Mar California opened up a whole new corridor for balloon companies, and is still operating today. Coming full circle, Jay has returned to Yountville to fly with his children, Jayson, Jared, and Gretchen.


Jim Marshall - Pilot - A long time Napa resident, Jim is one of the most experienced pilots in Napa Valley with over 30 years of piloting. Not only a master balloon pilot, Jim also has years of experience in hot air balloon maintenance and repair. Jim has been flying passengers in hot air balloons for 36 years, his first company, founded in 1978  pioneered wine country balloon flights in Sonoma County. In 1979, Jim recognized the need for a balloon repair station in order to comply with FAA requirements for operating a commercial balloon ride business.  He sought training and became certified in repair and inspection of hot air balloons.  With that, Jim and a partner opened one of the first FAA certified balloon repair stations in the world.  This experience in and out of the air has let to opportunities to fly and service balloons in France, Egypt, the Czech Republic and all over the USA, including the Napa Valley where Jim enjoys the supportive and family atmosphere of Napa Valley Aloft. 


Our family comprises a great team, offering you a personal touch and an unforgettable experience on your Napa Valley hot air balloon adventure.

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