Balloons serve myriad purposes, from transporting people through the sky to keeping clowns from making animal shapes out of linked sausages. Appreciate these multitasking tools with today’s Groupon: for $99, you get a hot air balloon experience for one from Hot Air Expeditions (a $175 value). Although today’s Groupon is valid for one person, each balloon can ferry groups for multiperson merrymaking. The experience includes the following:
- Hot air balloon ride
- Champagne toast upon landing
- Breakfast or hors d’oeuvres upon landing
- Commemorative flight certificate
Hot Air Expeditions' FAA–certified pilots carry passengers up to 5,000 feet above the sprawling Sonoran Desert during scenic [hot air balloon rides](http://gr.pn/pUUWZ1). Each expedition begins with an approximately 30-minute balloon inflation, during which motorized fans and propane burners pump more hot air than politicians in a sauna. Travelers and a pilot then climb aboard a handmade, oversize wicker basket and launch into the heavens. Flights generally cruise along at a lower altitude of approximately 400 feet, allowing customers an overhead view of card games among desert animals such as jackrabbits, roadrunners, and coyotes. Balloon operators lower their vehicles within inches of trees and cacti and soar high above valleys to provide panoramic, 360-degree vistas of the idyllic sandscape. Upon landing, a ground team will meet freshly minted sky conquerors and lead them to a fully set table. Champagne flutes accompany [breakfast or hors d'oeuvres](http://gr.pn/nNHjYd), both of which come catered from acclaimed local eatery Vincent on Camelback. Fliers tickling clouds in the morning dine on gourmet breakfast fare such as quiche lorraine and chocolate-filled croissants, and afternoon aviators nosh on appetizers such as chocolate truffles and pizza rounds swathed in barbecue duck or southwestern vegetables. All customers receive a commemorative flight certificate, suitable for framing or to use as wings for origami pigeons.
Hot Air Expeditions
Though a pilot mans each of Hot Air Expeditions balloon flights, the excursions are really guided by Mother Nature. The colorful balloons simply follow the wind, hovering above the cacti and coyote that call the Sonoran desert home before gently climbing breezes to give passengers a full view of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Groups can take morning flights year-round or afternoon flights from November through March, both of which offer spectacular photo opportunities, as well as time-sensitive challenges to any still-life painters on board.
The mutable nature of the flights mean they last anywhere from 45–90 minutes, after which, passengers will enjoy chilled champagne and gourmet catered cuisine from the award-winning Vincent’s on Camelback Restaurant, complete with tables linens and china in the heart of the desert. Each guest is awarded an official flight certificate as a memento of their aerial journey before boarding a courtesy van that returns them to the launch point. Though the actual flights last up to 90 minutes, groups should allow up to four hours for the entire trip.
704 W Deer Valley Rd.
Phoenix, Arizona 85027