Nothing shows you've made it in World of Warcraft more than an epic flying mount. Their unmatched speed and graphics turn heads in capital cities, and even make new characters swoon in awe during those occasional visits to the starter zones.
These mounts require the epic flying skill (aka Artisan Riding), which can learned at level 70 at the initial trainer price of 5,000 WoW Gold. This can go down to 4,000 WoW Gold through faction discounts but keep in mind that this will mean grinding mobs and quests for reputation gains.
Despite the expensive cost of epic flying, everyone in the game dreams of owning the rarest epic flying mounts to raise their status as elite players. To do so requires lots of patience and luck so get ready to play all night if you want to catch these super fly rides.
Ashes of Al'ar Phoenix
Bright and majestic as the setting sun, the Ashes of Al'ar phoenix mount emits a magma-like glow that leaves faint red traces as it soars through the sky in +310% flying speed.
The phoenix drops as an item from Kael'thas, the last boss in Tempest Keep: The Eye dungeon, and has a reported 1-2% drop rate. Considering the seven-day lockout, you should clear the raid dungeon every week for the highest chance to get this flying mount.
But given the Outland-level mobs and bosses, the chances of getting this mount are now higher than ever with some gamers clearing the boss with just nine raiders. This cuts down the competition for the mount when it does drop.
There are other notable mounts—most of them drakes—that drop from bosses in Icecrown Citadel dungeons.
As the reanimated horse of Lich King Arthas, the Invincible charger boasts a sinister aura and long dark wings that expand just before taking flight at 310% aerial speed.
Now that the Icecrown buffs are raised to 30% bonus healing, damage and health, there's no better time to farm this mount from the most difficult 25-man heroic Lich King encounter. But don't take the fight lightly just because of the buffs; the phase mechanics can be brutal to even the most prepared raids.
All the perseverance will be worth it though when victory is at hand—the Lich King, when defeated at this difficulty, will drop Invincible Charger at a guaranteed 100% drop rate.
Holiday events might seem inconvenient for serious mount collectors want to focus on boss farming, but completing the holiday achievements unlocks one of the rarest flying mounts.
The Violet Proto-Drake is awarded after completion of the What a Long Strange Trip It's Been meta achievement, which consists of tasks spread out throughout one calendar year. This 310% speed flying mount is considered one of the hardest mounts to get due to the lengthy time and 100+ task composition.
Casual players who log in frequently and participate in holiday events have the best shot at the Violet Proto-Drake. It doesn't require participation in high-end raiding or PvP and is not solely dependent on luck of the loot drop. The in-game calendar and achievement tracker are great tools for keeping tabs on the world events and making sure no feat goes unfinished.
Blue or Red Dragonhawk Mount
If you're an avid collector of mounts, filling up your menagerie to 100 will net you the beautiful Blue Dragonhawk (Alliance) or Red Dragonhawk (Horde) mount.
Midway through your journey, or at 50 mounts, you also get an Albino Drake. Friendly race mounts sold at the various capital cities are a great starting point for building up your mount count. Then collect the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King faction mounts.
PvP mounts from the different battlegrounds can be obtained with some well-earned tokens, and the tailoring and engineering professions yield several mounts that could set you back a total of 15,000 Gold.
It's been argued that this flying mount is even more difficult to get that the Violet Proto-Drake due to sheer cost and time investment involved. Be sure to download extensive list guides at World of Raids and WoWVaults to map out your mount acquisition plan.
But When All Else Fails…
You can always purchase the standard mounts sold at the vendors while waiting for the rarer kinds to arrive. At 100 WoW Gold each, four mounts each are available to each faction: the Swift Wind Rider models for the Horde and the Swift Gryphon models for the Alliance.
For the cheapest WoW Gold deals for purchasing Artisan Riding and other expensive skills, visit the WoW Gold Pig store. You can also hang out at the WoW Gold Pig blog, the best place online to talk about the Cataclysm expansion, sexy blood elves and delicious bacon.