History of ballooning

History of ballooning

The history of ballooning, both with hot air and gas, spans many centuries. It includes many firsts: first human flight, first flight across the English Channel, first flight in North America, and first aircraft related disaster.

Premodern and unmanned balloons

Unmanned hot air balloons are popular in Chinese history. Zhuge Liang of the Shu Han kingdom, in the Three Kingdoms era (220-280 AD) used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns (孔明灯). [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=ssO_19TRQ9AC&pg=PA113&ots=vDEuq_hKqc&dq=Kongming+balloon&sig=c3NT-uzoBYhzq203Qofw6XR9MH0 Ancient Chinese Inventions] ] [ [http://library.thinkquest.org/23062/balloon.html The Ten Thousand Infallible Arts of the Prince of Huai-Nan] ]

There is also some speculation that hot air balloons could have been used by people of the Nazca culture of Peru some 1500 years ago, as a tool for designing the famous Nazca ground figures and lines. [cite web
url = http://www.nott.com/Pages/projects.php
title = The Extraordinary Nazca Prehistoric Balloon
accessdate = 2008-05-06

The first documented balloon flight in Europe was by the Portuguese priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão. On August 8, 1709, in Lisbon, Bartolomeu de Gusmão managed to lift a small balloon made of paper full of hot air about 4 meters in front of king John V and the Portuguese court. [ AMEIDA, L. Ferrand de, "Gusmão, Bartolomeu Lourenço de", in SERRÃO, Joel, Dicionário de História de Portugal, Porto, Figueirinhas, 1981, vol. III, pp. 184-185 ] [ CARVALHO, História dos Balões, Lisboa, Relógio d'Agua, 1991 ] [ CRUZ FILHO, F. Murillo, Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão: Sua Obra e o Significado Fáustico de Sua Vida, Rio de Janeiro, Biblioteca Reprográfica Xerox, 1985 ] [ SILVA, Inocencio da, ARANHA, Brito, Diccionario Bibliographico Portuguez, Lisboa, Imprensa Nacional, T. I, pp. 332-334 ] [ TAUNAY, Affonso d'Escragnolle, Bartolomeu de Gusmão: inventor do aerostato: a vida e a obra do primeiro inventor americano, S. Paulo, Leia, 1942 ] [ TAUNAY, Affonso d'Escragnolle, Bartholomeu de Gusmão e a sua prioridade aerostatica, S. Paulo: Escolas Profissionaes Salesianas, 1935, Sep. do Annuario da Escola Polytechnica da Univ. de São Paulo, 1935 ]

He also made a balloon named "Passarola" (Portuguese: "Big bird") and attempted to lift himself from Saint George Castle in Lisbon, but only managed to harmlessly fall about one kilometre away. According to the Portuguese speaking community, this was the first man ever to fly in human history. However, this claim is not generally recognized by aviation historians outside the Portuguese speaking community, in particular the FAI.

Following Henry Cavendish's 1766 work on hydrogen, Joseph Black proposed that a balloon filled with hydrogen would be able to rise in the air.

First manned flight

The first clearly recorded instance of a balloon carrying passengers used hot air to generate buoyancy and was built by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France. These brothers came from a family of paper manufacturers and had noticed ash rising in paper fires. The Montgolfier brothers gave their first public demonstration of their invention on June 4, 1783. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first "tethered" balloon flight with humans on board took place on October 19, 1783 with the scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, the manufacture manager, Jean-Baptiste Réveillon and Giroud de Villette, at the "Folie Titon" in Paris. The first "free" flight with human passengers was on 21 November 1783. [cite web
url=http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Lighter_than_air/Early_Balloon_Flight_in_Europe/LTA1.htm | title=U.S. Centennial of Flight Commisstion: Early Balloon Flight in Europe | accessdate=2008-06-04
] King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but de Rozier, along with Marquis Francois d'Arlandes, successfully petitioned for the honor. [cite web | url=http://www.start-flying.com/Montgolfier.htm | title=Start-Flying: history of balloon flying | accessdate=2007-12-28 ] [cite web | url=http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2003/hetherington/final/montgolfier_bros.html | title=Lighter than air: The Montgolfier Brothers
] [cite web | url=http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gal109/NEWHTF/ITM300.HTM | title=National Air and Space Museum: Pioneers of Flight gallery | accessdate=2007-12-28 ] The first hot air balloons were essentially cloth bags (sometimes lined with paper) with a smoky fire built on a grill attached to the bottom. They were susceptible to catching fire, often upon landing, although this occurred infrequently.

Only a few days later, on December 1, 1783, Professor Jacques Charles and Nicholas Louis Robert made the first gas balloon flight, also from Paris. The hydrogen filled balloon flew to almost 2,000 feet (600 m), stayed aloft for over two hours and covered a distance of 27 miles (43 km), landing in the small town of Nesle.

The next great challenge was to fly across the English Channel, a feat accomplished on January 7, 1785 by Jean-Pierre Blanchard.

The first aircraft disaster occurred in May 1785 when the town of Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland was seriously damaged when the crash of a balloon resulted in a fire that burned down about 100 houses, making the town home to the world's first aviation disaster. To this day, the town shield depicts a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Blanchard went on to make the first manned flight of a balloon in America on January 9, 1793. His hydrogen filled balloon took off from a prison yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The flight reached 5,800 feet (1,770 m) and landed in Gloucester County, New Jersey. President George Washington was among the guests observing the takeoff.

Gas balloons became the most common type from the 1790s until the 1960s.

The first steerable balloon (also known as a dirigible) was flown by Henri Giffard in 1852. Powered by a steam engine, it was too slow to be effective. Like heavier than air flight, the internal combustion engine made dirigibles—especially blimps—practical, starting in the late 19th century. In [1872] Paul Haenlein flew the first (tethered) internal combustion motor-powered balloon. The first to fly in an untethered airship powered by an internal combustion engine was Alberto Santos Dumont in 1898.

Henri Giffardalso developed a tethered balloon for passengers in 1878 in the Tuileries Garden in Paris.

Military use

The first military use of aircraft in Europe took place during the French Revolutionary Wars, when the French used a tethered hydrogen balloon to observe the movements of the Austrian army during the Battle of Fleurus (1794).

In 1811 Franz Leppich went to Napoleon and claimed that he could build a hot-air balloon that would enable the French to attack from the air. Napoleon then ordered that he be removed from French Territory. In 1812 he went to Moscow to Count Rostopchin with the same proposal. When the balloon was finally tried out, it failed to rise, and nothing more was seen of its inventor.

In Tolstoy's Novel, War and Peace Count Pyótr Kiríllovich Bezúkhov (Pierre) makes an excursion to see this balloon though he does not see it. Tolstoy also includes a letter from the sovereign Emperor Alexander I to Count Rostopchin concerning the balloon. [ War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy. 2007 Alfred A Knopf. New York. pgs 751 & 1240 ]

Hot air balloons were employed during the American Civil War. The military balloons used by the Union Army Balloon Corps under the command of Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe were limp silk envelopes inflated with coal gas (town gas) or hydrogen.

Modern day

Modern hot air ballons, with an onboard heat source, were pioneered by Ed Yost beginning in the 1950s which resulted in his first successful flight on October 22, 1960. [cite web
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/04/us/04yost.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
title = "New York Times": Ed Yost, 87, Father of Modern Hot-Air Ballooning, Dies
accessdate = 2008-06-04
] The first modern day hot air balloon to be built in the United Kingdom (UK) was the Bristol Belle in 1967. Today, hot air balloons are used primarily for recreation, and there are some 7,500 hot air balloons operating in the United States.

The first tethered balloon in modern times was made in France at Chantilly Castle in 1994 by AEROPHILE S.A.

ee also

*Balloon (aircraft)
*Balloon satellite
*Barrage balloon
*Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
*Cluster ballooning
*Espionage balloon
*First flying machine
*Gas balloon
*High altitude balloon
*Hopper balloon
*Hot air balloon festivals
*Hot air ballooning
*Lighter than air
*List of balloon uses
*Montgolfier brothers
*Non-rigid airship (Blimp)
*Observation balloon
*Research balloon
*Skyhook balloon
*Solar balloon
*Thermal airship (Hot air airship)



*Needham, Joseph (1986)." Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering". Taipei: Caves Books Ltd.

External links

* [http://www.ballong.org/notable/ NOTABLE PERFORMANCES and ACHIEVEMENTS]
* [http://www.nott.com/Pages/projects.php Possible prehistoric Nazca hot air balloon]
* [http://www.ballooning-rides.co.uk/hot-air-balloon-history.html Balloon History] - More information about the history of hot air balloons
* [http://ahmerhussain.googlepages.com/chemistry-hotairballonhistory.pdf History of Ballooning (Student Essay)] - Student Essay on History of Ballooning
* [http://tesla.liketelevision.com/liketelevision/tuner.php?channel=232&format=tv&theme=history Video of The Double Eagle Balloon] after crossing the Atlantic Ocean
* [http://tesla.liketelevision.com/liketelevision/tuner.php?channel=263&format=movie&theme=guide British film Conquest of the Air] starring Laurence Olivier stars as Vincent Lunardi

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • History of military ballooning — Main article: Balloon (aircraft) L Entreprenant at the Battle of Fleurus (1794). Balloons were the first mechanisms used in air warfare. Their role was strictly recognized for reconnaissance purposes. They provided humans with the first available …   Wikipedia

  • History of manufactured gas — The history of manufactured gas, important for lighting, heating, and cooking purposes throughout most of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, began with the development of analytical and pneumatic chemistry in the… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Chicago — Site of Chicagou on the lake, in Guillaume de L Isle s map (Paris, 1718) The history of Chicago, Illinois, has played an important role in the history of the United States. Americans founded the city in 1832. The Chicago area s recorded history… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the United States Democratic Party — The History of the United States Democratic Party is an account of the oldest political party in the United States and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world. [citation | last=Witcover | first=Jules | year=2003 | chapter=1 | page=3.… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Royal Air Force — The history of the Royal Air Force, the air force of the United Kingdom, spans nearly a century of British military aviation.Formation and early history (1918 ndash;1939)Whilst the British were not the first to make use of heavier than air… …   Wikipedia

  • Hot air ballooning — is the activity of flying hot air balloons. Attractive aspects of ballooning include the exceptional quiet (except when the propane burners are firing), the lack of a feeling of movement, and the bird s eye view. Since the balloon moves with the… …   Wikipedia

  • Gordon Bennett Cup (ballooning) — Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett Award details Sport Gas ballooning English name Gordon Bennett Cup History First award September 30, 190 …   Wikipedia

  • Cluster ballooning — is a form of ballooning where a harness attaches a balloonist to a cluster of helium inflated rubber balloons. Unlike traditional hot air balloons, where a single large balloon is equipped with vents enabling altitude control, cluster balloons… …   Wikipedia

  • Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning — Festival logo Begins Third Friday in July Ends Sunday Frequency Annual …   Wikipedia

  • School of Ballooning — The School of Ballooning was a training and test centre for British Army experiments with airships. It was established at Chatham in Kent in 1888. The School moved to Stanhope Lines, Aldershot in 1890 when a balloon section and depot were formed… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.