It’s a bucket list experience for many—a hot air balloon ride. At Rainbow Ryders, guests can float over the stunning Arizona landscape in one of the company’s signature balloons. 

Rainbow Ryders launched as a company more than 40 years.

“We are honored to be recognized as the number one hot air balloon company in the Southwest, says founder and president Scott Appelman. “Our unbreakable dedication from our staff, crew, and pilots has resulted in an exceptional team to work and operate with. I am incredibly proud to have witnessed the remarkable growth of Rainbow Ryders over the years.”

Here, Appelman talks all things hot air balloons—including how many states and countries he’s where taken balloon rides himself.


Ok, how did you get started with a hot air balloon company? Did you always want to own one? 

I have always had a passion for all things aviation. After my first crew experience, I knew exactly what I wanted to do! Rainbow Ryders started operating in Albuquerque of 1983. After 40 years and four locations later, I still have the same volume of passion as I did when I first got Rainbow Ryders off the ground, literally! 

Where do your balloons fly? 

We now operate in all four corners of the Southwest! You can find us in Albuquerque, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and our exciting new location in Park City, Utah. Additionally, we are the official ride operator for the International Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and Colorado Springs' largest hot air balloon festival, Labor Day Lift Off. 

Are flights offered year-round? 

Flights are offered year-round in Albuquerque and Phoenix, weather permitting. We operate seasonally during the summer in Colorado Springs and Park City.

What makes it a bucket list experience for so many? 

There is nothing more serene than floating over stunning landscapes in a hot air balloon. The peaceful silence and calming atmosphere create an experience unlike any other. You get a unique perspective that simply cannot be matched by any other form of travel. 

Are balloon rides safe? 

Exceptionally safe! Hot air ballooning is the safest form of aviation, especially when flying with Rainbow Ryders. Our impeccable safety record is due to our high standards and requirements for our pilots, crew, and equipment. As a ride operation only, we have flown over 750,000 passengers and our pilots have over 100,000 hours of combined flight time! 

It seems very romantic—are there a lot of proposals? 

We have many passengers wanting to set the scene romantically with a hot air balloon flight to pop the big question! I have been honored to be a part of many of these exciting moments.

 I have flown in 45 different states, as well as three different countries. 

Have you done balloon rides elsewhere personally?

Yes! I have flown in 45 different states, as well as three different countries. 

What do you like to do when you’re not at work? 

I really enjoy spending quality time with my wife and our two dogs out on the water. Whether it's boating, or simply relaxing by the shore, these moments are always special and refreshing for all of us.

Favorite places and/or restaurants to visit or experience in Scottsdale? 

There is nothing like visiting the Waste Management Phoenix Open Golf Tournament. I attend every year because it brings together such a fun and lively crowd. You may also find me at Eddie V's, their food is phenomenal! 

Rainbow Ryders