Took a discovery flight last night...well kinda. Got the lady a hot air balloon ride for her birthday. She was more than excited, has wanted to do it since she was a kid. We get there (the balloon had just gotten out of annual...yes, hot air balloons require an annual just like an airplane, never would have guessed that, but once I thought about it, not surprised). We got there, the pilot and his wife (also a balloon pilot) and crewman had us help them unpack the balloon, and get things going. Using a gas powered fan to fill it up, a bunch of propane fueled BTU's and we were up and away. It was cool as hell, started out cruising through tree tops and eventually made our way up to about 2000 AGL. The balloon even had an altimeter and VSI in it. The pilot was great, the ride was amazing, then landing was impressive. Just like we practice landing in a random field in the case of an engine out, these guys just land in a field, all the time. Only difference is, they have no ability to steer whatsoever. Load the balloon up and head back to the launch site, aka the owners back yard for some champagne. Awesome experience. I learned a lot, the ballooning community, which is very small but a very passionate specialized corner of the aviation community, is something pretty cool. Our pilot has been doing it for years. When he told me he was part of a small group in the late 80's to fly balloons up to 24,000 feet, I was beyond impressed and hit the guy with a steady strip of questions. Yes, FL 240 in a hot air balloon. Not that I would plan on doing this anytime soon, but one of these days, I might want to add a lighter than air rating to my ticket. Which I also quizzed him on, and apparently, the process a balloon pilot goes through to get a rating is just about the same as what us fixed wing guys do. So, if anyone is considering taking a ride in an aircraft that is 100% unsteerable, VFR only, and slow as hell... I highly suggest a balloon ride.