@Seldom - thanks for the JOSM link.
As far as steering - you're right it is just up and down, but if the pilot is paying attention and has some skill, the wind blows in different directions and speeds at different altitudes. Here in Albuquerque we have a North-South valley and on a good morning (calm clear night before), you can get 4 nearly orthogonal directions at different altitudes.
The 'red zones' often have live stock or other reasons for not wanting balloons around. Its up to the pilot to stay an appropriate distance away, but it would be nice to have a little electronic help in the way of proximity alarms. But it looks like a separate POI file can do this to an extent (make the proximity warning radius large enough).