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ballooning history

The first form of flight, other than that of a bird, was actually by balloon and the story goes something like this. . . .  The Montgolfier brothers, born in Annonay, France, were the inventors of the first practical balloon. The first demonstrated flight of a hot air balloon took place on June 4th, 1783, in Annonay, France.  Montgolfiere Balloon  -  Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, paper mill owners, were trying to float bags made of paper and fabric. When the brothers held a flame near the opening at the bottom, the bag (called a balon) expanded with hot air and floated upward. The Montgolfier brothers built a larger paper-lined silk balloon and demonstrated it on June 4th, 1783, in the marketplace at Annonay. Their balloon (called a Montgolfiere) lifted 6,562 feet into the air.

the world's first hot air balloon passengers

There was some concern about the effects of high altitude on living beings. The king proposed a test using prisoners, but the Montgolfier’s instead suspended a basket below the balloon containing a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. It was actually a scientifically sound idea. The sheep's physiology was thought to be similar to a human's. The high-flying duck was unlikely to be harmed, so it was used as a control. The rooster was included as a further control because while it was also a bird, it did not fly at high altitudes.  Officially, the three barnyard animals claim the honor of being the first creatures to soar into the skies in a hot air balloon.  The flight took place in France on September 19, 1783, in Versailles, by a Montgolfiere built hot air balloon.  The flight lasted for eight minutes in front of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and a crowd of 130,000. The flight covered about 2 miles and ended safely.

the world's first manned flight

On October 15, 1783, the first human passengers on a Montgolfiere balloon took flight.  The balloon was on a tether with Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a chemistry and physics teacher, aboard.  He stayed aloft for almost four minutes.  About a month later, on November 21, Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes, a French military officer, made the first free ascent in a balloon, flying from the center of Paris to the suburbs, about 5.5 miles (9 km) in 25 minutes.

Montgolfier Brothers