Free Speculative Fiction short stories online.
Read it here: "A Voyage In A Balloon"
By Jules Verne, translated by Anne T Wilbur
In Project Gutenberg
It may be that balloons as a means of transport still have a place in the future of our world. NASA is using them to explore near space (Link), and it may also that balloons and blimps become a more environmentally friendly means of moving cargo around. They might be slower, being more prey to the whims of the weather, but they would join well with the slow food movement.
In Verne's 1852 story, the narrator is travelling in Germany, demonstrating the joys of ballooning to a dubious public. In fact, three notaries of the town who insist that they want to go on an ascension with him, depart the country before the balloon is even ready.
The narrator decides to make the ascension alone so that the crowd will not be entirely dissatisfied. However, it turns out that he has a passenger after all. This passenger is a ballooning fanatic, although he has never made an ascension before. The Unkown, as he is referred to, wants to go up. He insists on going higher. In fact, in moments that would work well as comedy in a film, he keeps throwing more sandbags out, and the higher they go, the more insane he is.