Phoenix-based ballooning company fights for land use permits in ‘Save AZ Ballooning’ petition

Well-established ballooning company Rainbow Ryders has formed a petition called “Save AZ...
Well-established ballooning company Rainbow Ryders has formed a petition called “Save AZ Ballooning” to pressure local legislators to renew their land use permits.(SWLA Hot Air Balloon Festival)
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 12:10 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Well-established ballooning company Rainbow Ryders has formed a petition, alongside other locally-owned ballooning organizations, called “Save AZ Ballooning” to pressure local legislators to renew their land use permits for safe launches and landing zones.

Rainbow Ryders says they’ve served approximately 750,000 passengers from Arizona and beyond, as well as employs more than 100 pilots, crew, and other operations members. All in all, the company has brought millions of tourism dollars into the state. Ryders said that they’ve deliberately taken extra safety measures and have renewed and kept Special Land Use State Land permits active for more than 10 years to keep their company flight-ready.

Ryders believes that recent legislation preventing hot air balloon companies from launching and landing on state land could put the entire ballooning industry in danger and would cut off a sizeable portion of tourism dollars being funneled into Arizona. A recent rise in global development companies purchasing large plots of state land is also impacting the ballooning industry.

“We are fighting for renewals of land use permits by the Arizona State Trust Land Department and a positive solution to protect hot air balloon businesses and the balloon industry altogether from diminishing,” said Scott Appelman, CEO, and President of Rainbow Ryders. The intent behind the petition is to bring together a group of locally owned ballooning companies to emphasize the importance of using Arizona State Trust Land for their experiences for locals and tourists.

An excerpt of the permit reads as follows:

According to TripAdvisor, there are at least six different ballooning companies in the Valley offering hot air balloon flights in the area. On average in the United States, a hot air balloon ride lasting between one to two hours costs around $150 to $200 dollars with some costing as high as $300. Many balloons offer opportunities for groups, making this one aspect of Arizona tourism lucrative for both local businesses as well as the state government.