Riding in a hot air balloon is an unforgettable experience. It is something that has gained popularity as a tourist attraction and sporting event over the past few decades. Hot air balloons are used for a variety of reasons from sightseeing to weddings, but who invented the hot air balloon to start with?
The Invention of the Hot Air Balloon
The first hot air balloon was invented by two French brothers, Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, in 1783. They were two very affluent paper makers who noticed how the paper flew up the chimney with the hot air. After witnessing this countless times they thought that they may be able to make a paper balloon fly in the same way. Their first hot air balloon was launched on June 5, 1783 in Annonay, France and flew for about 10 minutes. Motivated by their success on September 19, 1783 they sent up a duck, a sheep and a rooster. This hot air balloon flew 3 kilometers in 8 minutes. By October the brother were ready to try their invention with a willing human volunteer. French Scientist Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier became the first person to fly in a hot air balloon even if it was tied down for safety! In the next month he was one of two people to make the first free flight in an air balloon over Paris, France. The two men traveled 16 kilometers and ascended to 3000 feet (984 Km). The stayed in the air for 25 minutes controlling their own flight by adding straw to the fire. These first hot air balloons were made from a simple cloth bag with a fire burning beneath it on a grill.
In August of 1783 Jacques Charles invented a different type of hot air balloon that was filled with hydrogen instead of heated air. On December 1st in Paris, France, Jacques Charles and Noel Roberts flew 27 miles in a hydrogen balloon. Elizabeth Thible was the first woman to fly in a hot air balloon and she took her historic journey in Lyons, France on June 4, 1784. The first British hot air balloon flight took place on October 4, 1784 by James Salter. Jean-Pierre Blanchard flew the first U.S hot air balloon over Philadelphia on January 9 1793. After this time hot air ballooning lots some of its appeal as people concentrated more on the first two winged flying machines.
The Modern Day Hot Air Balloon
It wasn’t until the 1960’s that improvements were made to the original design of the hot air balloon. On October 22, 1960 Ed Yost flew a balloon made of nylon. The air inside was heated by a propane burner which was much safer than pumping in gas or having an open flame. Later in the 1960’s Tracey Barnes invented the parachute value, which allows air to be let out of the top of the balloon when the value is opened. This made hot air balloons easier to control and allowed for slower and safer descents. The modern day hot air balloon is made of ripstop nylon or Dacron. The air inside is heated by propane burners much as Ed Yost first hot air balloon was. All hot air balloons also employ a valve at the top usually a parachute valve to allow for greater control and safety.