Just a few miles north of Knoxville, off the 407 – Sevierville exit, along with my wife, I recently took an exhilarating ride on a hot air balloon over the hills, farms and lakes of East Tennessee.
The morning ride began as we rose with the sun and lasted a little more than an hour, at around 1,200 feet above the ground, traveling around 20 miles.
The pilot, Pip Holland, is a veteran – having flown for more than 30 years for radio stations, a real estate company and others as a commercial balloon pilot. He put is at ease, talking about the weather and how he had taken a large number of factors into consideration in deciding whether or not to take off.
Aside from the occasional burst of sound from the burner heating the air, the flight was silent. We could hear a little of the interstate traffic, hoofbeats from cattle or horses who ran away from the balloon and the barking of a dog here and there.
The views were panoramic and beautiful, a 360 degree view of the area including the picturesque Douglas Lake, foothills of the Smokies, farms, subdivisions and country roads. It was amazing.
We landed in a field near Dumplin Valley in Jefferson County. The owner of the house told our ground crew we could land there if it wouldn’t mess up his (beautifully manicured) yard.
The balloon was deflated, packed and we were headed back to the launch site. Mr. Holland told us of the history of ballooning – dating back to the 16th century – over a traditional champagne toast.
The flight was definitely memorable, very worth doing and lots of fun. I highly recommend doing it. If you would like to go with the company we used check out http://www.tennesseeballoonrides.com – all the details are there.
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