Balloons in the History of Aviation

Balloons in the History of Aviation

People can run, climb, swim, dive, but without help they will never be able to fly. This may be one of the reasons why aviation is a source of admiration. It may be hard to believe, but the first flights performed go far beyond the history of cars. But if driving has become a daily routine, flights still have their charm.

The First Hot Air Balloon

1783 France, Jacques and Joseph Mongolfje demonstrated the balloon they created in public. The brothers believed that hot air could lift heavy objects or even people. Only good materials and the right equipment were needed to find. After many experiments, brothers found a way to keep the hot air a little longer: the fabric balloon was covered with several layers of paper from the inside. The extra layers that formed helped the hot air not run out of the balloon any longer, but at the same time were much easier than trying to make them out of fabric. But even after such facilitations, the weight of the balloon was several hundred kilograms.

September 19 was a day of the famous flight from Paris under the watch of the king and 130,000 citizens with the first “passengers”: a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. A hot air balloon named Le Reveillon in honor of Jacques’ friend, paper magnate Reveillon. The fligh took off from the Palace of Versailles. According to witnesses to the incident, in the first hour afternoon the cannon shot announced the start of the test. The animals were tucked into a bag attached to the balloon by ropes, and soon the invention itself began to climb into the sky with a thunderous applause. The flight lasted about eight minutes. In the same year, people decided to fly, so prisoner François Laurent d’Arlandes and chemist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier became the pioneers.

The First Hydrogen-filled Balloon

Jacques Charles studied the isothermal processes described a century earlier and a gas discovered by Boilie that just a few years earlier had been proven to exist by another scientist, Henry Cavendish. Expensively extracted, from the interaction of metal and acid, hydrogen gas was certainly very volatile. Charles and his brothers Robert came up with the idea of ​​using a mixture of rubber and turpentine, created by creating multiple sections for a balloon that seemed to be filled with hydrogen in small envelopes.

The first demonstration took place in Paris, on August 27, 1783, with a crowd of spectators. This small balloon, with a volume of just 35 cubic meters, could only lift a weight of about 9 kg. However, 250 kilograms of sulfuric acid and half a ton of crushed iron had to be used to produce enough hydrogen to fill it. Launched from the fields of Mars, the balloon flew for about 45 minutes and landed in the countryside of Gones. About 21 kilometers from the launch site. When the locals saw the landed unrecognized scarecrow, they destroyed it with forks and knives.

The First Hydrogen-filled Balloon
The First Hydrogen-filled Balloon

After receiving the proves that the invention worked, Charles decided to fly on December 1. He and his fellow passenger, Nicholas Robert, boarded a 380 cubic meter hydrogen-filled balloon. They flew from Tuiler Palace watching about 400,000 spectators (a symbolic fee had to be paid for the opportunity to watch the take-off) and they flew for more than two hours. With the help of sandbag ballasts, they were able to maintain a constant height of about 550 meters during the flight. The researchers landed 36 kilometers away.