Your Pilot

Wine Country Balloons is quite fortunate to have the most experienced balloon pilots in the region. In addition to being highly safety conscious, these certified hot air balloon flight professionals have the personality and knowledge to make sure you walk away from your ballooning experience having learned more about the sport and the local environment than you ever anticipated. Recognizing that a balloon ride should be considered “entertainment” not “transportation” these gentlemen each possess a keen sense of humor, certain to entertain you as you gently drift through the sky.


Scott van der Horst

Scott van der Horst

Scott is the chief pilot in charge of operations for Wine Country Balloons and has been flying balloons since 1972. Performing 95% of the flights for this company since 1984 he has accumulated more than 5000 hours flying hot air balloons and has personally hosted more than 30,000 passengers. He has flown balloons throughout North America, Europe and even over the rain forests of Costa Rica. He is an active flight instructor for hot air balloons and has been responsible for certifying a number of local and international pilots.

Scott van der Horst

Chuck Arreola

Chuck Arreola is a California native and has been flying commercial aircraft for the past 30 years. After becoming rated as an Airline Transport Pilot to fly jet aircraft, he acquired his lighter than air balloon certificate over 17 years ago and has since flown extensively throughout the Western United States. Considered to be one of the most experience pilots in the valley, he is qualified to fly any size of balloons and he annually competes at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October.

Scott van der Horst

John Wright

John Wright has had a Private Pilot Certificate for Single & Multi engine airplanes since 1961 but within one year of moving to Sonoma Wine Country in 1971, he became the first licensed hot air balloon pilot in Sonoma County. When he’s not flying guests in the Northern California Wine Country he regularly places among the top 20 out of 125 balloonists competing in the annual Great Reno Balloon Race and won top position in the world renown Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 1981.