Hot air balloons were originally designed as sky prisons for bullies to spend the rest of their natural lives cruelly mocking the weightlessness of timid clouds. Enjoy a less insulting application of aeronautics with this Groupon.
$125 for One Admission to a Hot Air Balloon Ride ($250 Value)
Many of R.O. Franks's balloons accommodate up to four passengers, and the company's giant balloon, The Dragon, can ferry up to 14. During this approximately 60-minute float, passengers soar at altitudes between 1,000 and 3,000 feet with views of downtown Asheville, sprawling farm landscapes, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Upon landing, passengers toast the journey with champagne.
R.O. Franks Aviation Company
For 17 years, third-generation and FAA–certified sky engineer Addison M. Brown has hoisted panorama junkies into the sky by harnessing the power of hot, blustery air. Each morning, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., he and his team pile up to 4 or 14 passengers into the basket of their giant balloons. Then, firing off the burner, they slowly lift off as the sun begins its own ascent, typically reaching heights from 500 to 2,000 feet. Below them, the rays of the sunrise wash over vistas of downtown Asheville, a patchwork of multicolored crop fields, and the tree-covered backs of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Maneuvering with the morning's mild wind currents, they ferry the group over hills and hollows and past the Biltmore Estate for a 3- to 5-mile float. Upon a gentle landing, the crew celebrates with passengers by offering them a champagne toast and helping them dust the clouds out of their hair. The whole trip is documented in photos, from the inflation of the balloon through the flight itself, but passengers are welcomed to bring their own cameras or video cameras as well.