Scott Appelman, president and founder of Rainbow Ryders, has had his head in the proverbial clouds for almost his entire life. After his first hot air balloon ride, Appelman was hooked. He soon took to the skies as a college student, learning to pilot the magical craft.
At the age of 12, this future entrepreneur fell in love with hot air balloons and eventually started a business to support his love.
As the oldest son in a family with an electrical contracting company, he tried his hand at running the family business for a few years, but he lacked passion for the company.
To continue his “habit,” as Appelman says, he started selling rides in his two- to three-passenger balloon to support his family. That early venture has turned into the world’s largest hot air balloon ride company in the world, Rainbow Ryders, with 100 employees and 50 balloons.
“We’ve flown celebrities, like Brian Cranston, Kelsey Grammar and Hillary Duff to athletes and business moguls, like Michael Dell. I do this to avoid a real job,” says the successful Appelman.
His favorite memory was flying out of Central Park in New York, realizing that this is what he “gets” to do in his life for a career, lead a business that generates happiness both for himself and for others.
“Sometimes, we have a pilot out, and the team tells me I’m flying. Then I get out there, smell the air and get that feeling of flying over the Valley, and I realize I get to do what I originally wanted to do all along. I never get burned out,” he says.
His most memorable ride was a man named Ernie, age 104, who was flying to check off his bucket list.
“He had so much joy! That’s what it’s all about. Making beautiful memories and Living Beautifully for life is the biggest privilege,” he says.