Knowing very little about the history or concept of ballooning, I decided to do some research before heading out the the Carolina Balloon Festival. Turns out, it's nothing more than a basket attached to a balloon full of hot air... Not very exciting. You sit in a basket, ignite a burner above your head, fill the balloon with hot air, rise up in the sky, and float to where the wind takes you. Definitely not the most adrenaline inducing of activities, but during my research I was able to find this tale about two gentlemen who used balloons in a duel to the death!
In 1808, two Frenchmen found themselves in a love-triangle with Mademoiselle Tirevit, a celebrated opera dancer, and took to the skies above Paris for a duel. While a crowd gathered below to watch what they thought was a balloon race, the men pulled out guns, aimed them at each other and began firing. One balloon was punctured and crashed to the buildings below, killing all on board. The other man descended to the ground unharmed, and presumably gained Tirevit’s hand. (link) While I didn't see anything as bad-ass as a balloon duel, I did manage to capture an unexpectedly impressive display of balloons lit up at night.