Hot air balloons in NC: How much does it cost, are they dangerous

Hot Air Balloons in NC

For $299 per person, you can embark on a sunrise flight over the Pisgah National Forest, floating at heights ranging from 500 to 2,000 feet above the mountains (Kristen Martinson / shutterstock.com)

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From a distance, I’ve loved hot air balloons for the better part of my life. 

I can remember being a small little Hoosier, maybe four or five, out in the yard among the chirping cicadas and seeing bright balloons floating against an azure summer sky. 

I don’t know if Ft. Wayne was a hot spot for ballooning or ballooning was just a heck of a lot more popular in the 70s, but seeing hot air balloons was not an uncommon occurrence when I was a kid. 

I’d see them several times per summer. 

But now, as an adult, years can go by without a single sighting.

But the wonder and the majesty and the poetry of the idea of hot air ballooning strikes a mighty chord. 

Honestly, riding in a hot air balloon, observing the miracle of floating peacefully above the earth, remains the height of romantic adventure to me. 

If you’re like me and the idea of floating in a balloon fits your flights of fancy, then Asheville Hot Air Balloons might just be the place to go. 

Asheville Hot Air Balloons in North Carolina

For $299 per person, you can embark on a sunrise flight over the Pisgah National Forest, floating at heights ranging from 500 to 2,000 feet above the mountains.

Your path, not surprisingly, will be at the whim of the wind, but that only helps ensure a unique experience. 

The views are fabulous in spring and summer, but can be especially memorable as the foliage turns in the fall.

Read Also: 6 pro tips on where and when to see the best fall colors

Asheville Hot Air Balloons, which has been in business since 1981, offers a once-in-a-lifetime type adventure. 

You launch early in the morning to view the rising sun over the mountains.

You are expertly piloted and will enjoy views that have previously been reserved for birds. 

While you’re enjoying the majesty of flight, a team of chasers follow the balloon using their expertise of local terrain to stay in position for support when the pilot finds a suitable spot to land roughly downwind from the original launch point. 

The chasers quickly and expertly help land the balloon, break it down and escort the guests back to the start. 

How long is the average hot air balloon ride?

The flights themselves are about an hour, but the entire process, which includes safety checks and inflating the balloon, will take between two to three hours.

Anyone ages 5 and up is welcome to fly. 

For the uninitiated, there are a few things worth going over. 

Asheville Hot Air Balloon Rides
Only one flight is offered per day at sunrise (photo by gary718 / shutterstock.com)

What about the weather? What should you wear?

If weather conditions are unfit to fly, you can either reschedule or receive a full refund. Cancellations due to reasons other than weather must be made at least 7 days in advance. 

Another frequent question is about clothing.

The balloons do not fly high enough for a massive change in temperature, but they do fly at the coolest part of the day. It is recommended that passengers dress in layers so they can adjust accordingly to the situation.

Hiking boots and long pants are recommended because landings will take place in fields chosen by the pilot on the fly, briars are a possibility. 

Why do the hot air balloons fly in the morning? 

“We fly hot air balloons year round, one flight per day at sunrise. We prefer to fly at daybreak because the air is more stable and the winds are calmer than other times of day. Midday is not good for flying due to heat, shifting wind, and thermals,” the company says on its website. 

Read Also: Best 5 spots to see on the North Carolina side of the mountains

How dangerous are hot air balloons?

Another question involves safety. 

Statistically, ballooning is relatively safe. But, let’s be honest, you are flying in a basket under a huge balloon. 

There are risks. 

Abrupt changes in the weather or wind gusts can cause issues. The biggest danger is power lines, which are relatively fewer through the mountains, but still exist. 

The more typical injuries come from the rare hard landing, which can result in broken bones or sprains. Some people wear helmets or knee pads to help minimize the risks. 

Asheville Hot Air Balloons pilots are experts, but this isn’t a ride at Disney World. This is a real flight, not some up and down thing that stays tethered to the Earth.  

If you’re going to fly, you have to accept some measure of risk.

For more information about Asheville Hot Air Balloons, visit them online

Have you ever flown in a hot air balloon in North Carolina? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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