Q: What time do we meet?
A: We meet at sunrise. The time of sunrise varies throughout the year from 6:15 to 8:00. When you book your flight we will send your meeting time in the confirmation email.
Q: Where do we meet?
A: Our offices are located in the Grove Arcade. We rendezvous at the south end of the Grove Arcade by the exit of the Wall Street parking garage.
Q: Why do we meet so early?
A: The weather is coolest and the winds are calmest just before sunrise, so early morning is the ideal time for ballooning.
Q: How high will we go?
A: Typically we reach altitudes of 500 to 2000 feet above the ground. We may go higher on mornings when the winds aloft are light. Our altitude will depend entirely on wind direction and speed.
Q: What should I wear?
A: The coldest part of the morning is when we meet. It gets warmer when the sun rises, and even though we are high up in the balloon, we get warmth from the burners and direct sunlight, so don’t worry about bundling up too much. It is, however, a good idea to wear long pants, comfortable shoes such as light hiking boots, and a hat to shield you from the radiant heat of the burner.
Q: Where do we launch from?
A: We have launch sites all over Buncombe County. Our site is determined by wind and fog.
Q: How far does the balloon travel?
A: Three to five miles.
Q: Can I bring cameras and video cameras?
A: Of course! But if you forget yours or don’t have one, don’t worry! We photo document all of our flights. Your trip is recorded from the inflation of the balloon, to your flight (yes, pictures of you in the balloon!), to disembarking.
Q: What’s is like up there?
A: It’s hard to describe an adventure this breathtaking. Read the impressions of other passengers on our blog: ExpressingtheIneffable
Q: Does the basket sway when we’re flying?
A: Because we move with the wind, the basket does not sway. Many people are surprised to discover what a smooth ride it is.
Q: Do you fly year-round?
A: Yes. Any time you choose to fly with R.O. Franks will be exceptional, though you can expect different things in each season. The best season for crystal clear views is winter. This is also the best time to see snowy mountain peaks, wildlife, and the little details of life on the ground when all the leaves are gone. Use heated insoles, hand warmers, and insulated boots and you’ll be ready for the only winter ballooning adventure in town! In springtime you’ll enjoy the fields of yellow daffodils, the green buds of hundreds of species of trees, and snowy white blossoms of pear and dogwood. Take a break from the bustle of your summer vacation to ride the warm morning currents up to where the buzz of summertime will gently fade into a tossing ocean of green. And of course, Western North Carolina is renowned for gorgeous autumn color, so there’s nothing like getting your fill of the season by seeing the changes from up above. The reds, golds, and oranges create a carpet of hues that will take your breath away.
Q: Do you have to be licensed to pilot hot air balloons?
A: Yes. Our captains have earned their FAA commercial certifications from an FAA-designated pilot examiner by demonstrating a precise knowledge of commercial standards. Or, to put it simply, they know their stuff. And although it isn’t required that pilots be multi-generation aeronauts, our captains are. Read more about the history of the family fascination with flight here.