- 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 Liangof the Shu Hankingdom, in the Three Kingdomsera (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 cultureof Perusome 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 Gusmãomanaged 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
kilometreaway. 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.
Henry Cavendish's 1766 work on hydrogen, Joseph Blackproposed 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
buoyancyand 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, 1783with the scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, the manufacture manager, Jean-Baptiste Réveillonand 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
accessdate=2007-12-28 ] [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 Charlesand 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, 1785by Jean-Pierre Blanchard.
The first aircraft disaster occurred in May 1785 when the town of
Tullamore, County Offaly, Irelandwas 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 Washingtonwas 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 Giffardin 1852. Powered by a steam engine, it was too slow to be effective. Like heavier than air flight, the internal combustion enginemade dirigibles—especially blimps—practical, starting in the late 19th century. In  Paul Haenleinflew 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 Dumontin 1898. Henri Giffardalso developed a tethered balloon for passengers in 1878 in the Tuileries Garden in Paris.
The first military use of
aircraftin Europetook place during the French Revolutionary Wars, when the French used a tethered hydrogenballoon to observe the movements of the Austrian army during the Battle of Fleurus (1794).
In 1811 Franz Leppich went to
Napoleonand claimed that he could build a hot-air balloon that would enable the French to attack from the air. Napoleonthen 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.
Tolstoy's Novel, War and PeaceCount 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 Corpsunder the command of Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowewere limp silk envelopes inflated with coal gas (town gas) or hydrogen.
Modern hot air ballons, with an onboard heat source, were pioneered by
Ed Yostbeginning 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 Bellein 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.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
First flying machine
High altitude balloon
Hot air balloon festivals
Hot air ballooning
Lighter than air
List of balloon uses
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.
* [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
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