History Of Hot Air Balloons

Ever since a long time ago, man always dreamed of flying high in the sky. It brought about the development of objects imitating birds. Many centuries later after different theories and test, people were able to come up with the hot air balloon.  A hot air balloon, a flying device lighter than air aircraft which has an envelope (a bag carrying passengers) and also uses heated air for propulsion. The invention of the machine was the birth of aerodynamics. The Hot air balloons are the first man-carrying objects in the atmosphere although it was not perfected and very unsafe at the time.

Etienne and Joseph Montgolfier designed “Aerostat Reveillon” the first hot air balloon on September 19, 1783. Pilatre de Rozier, a scientist, tested the prototype with a duck, sheep, and rooster as the hot air balloon passenger. The Reveillon was able to fly in the sky for about 15 minutes before falling back to the ground. The Montgolfier brothers, Etienne and Joseph Montgolfier had started experimenting with the idea of a hot air balloon several years before 1783. On the 15th of October, after Pilatre de Rozier had conducted the first unmanned test, went aboard for a tethered flight at the Reveillon workshop for about twenty minutes. It was a very historical event in the history of humanity. The hot air balloon reached an altitude of 85 ft. making him the second human to ascend in the air. On November 21, 1783, few weeks after the first manned flight there was the first human passenger free flight.

Later in 1785, Jean Pierre Blanchard, a French balloonist and John Jefferies his American co-pilot made history by being the first set of people to fly across the English Channel. Crossing the English Channel on air was a huge deal at that time. Pilatre de Rozier died the same year while trying to cross the English Channel; it was due to experimental error.  The first air balloon flight in North America took place on the 7th of January 1793 by French Jean Pierre Blanchard; President George Washington was there to witness the historic event. In 1794, l’Entreprenant was used in the battle of Fleurus by the French for observation. It was the first military application of a hot air balloon.

After a century and some years later, August 1932 to be precise. Auguste Piccard, a Swiss scientist, made history by being the first to achieve a manned flight to the stratosphere with an altitude of 52,498 ft. Year by year records get broken, and a new one is always set. In 1935, the Explorer 2, a gas helium balloon reached a height of 72,395 ft. The flight proved human could survive in exceptionally high altitudes; the discovery inspired human to develop space rockets and travel to the moon.

However, in 1960, Captain Joe Kittinger made history by parachute jumping from a hot air balloon at an altitude of 102,000 ft. He was awarded the highest parachute jump record. Finally, another record was made! It was on the 15th of January 1991, when Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand had the longest flight record in the Virgin Pacific Flyer. The flight was from Japan to Northern Canada, and it spanned a distance of 7,671.91 km. Auguste Piccard’s grandson, Bertrand Piccard, and Briton Jones had the longest duration flight recorded; it was in Breitling Orbiter 3.