The Incredible Story Of The First Hot Air Balloon Flight

A sheep, a duck and a rooster are the first passengers in a hot air balloon, the brave pioneers of the modern era of flying.
The era of modern aviation was inaugurated in 1783, when a sheep, duck and rooster boarded a prototype balloon and flew for about eight minutes. The king of France had proposed using prisoners as passengers, but the Montgolfier brothers, inventors and engineers of balloons, chose the animals, for what were considered scientific reasons. It is believed that the psychology of sheep is similar to that of humans, high-flying ducks will not suffer altitude and roosters, which cannot fly, are a good way of measuring the altitude limit.

The flight was witnessed by Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and an audience of approximately 130,000 civilians. The balloon flew 3.2 kilometers and landed without incident.

The next step for Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier was to put someone in the basket. In October 1783, they launched a balloon connected to the ground with a guideline, and brought in the courageous professor of chemistry and physics, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, who remained for some four minutes.

Nearly a month later, Pilâtre de Rozier and Marquis d’Arlandes, a French military officer, undertook what is perhaps the most impressive flight of the century. They flew together from central Paris to the suburbs (about 9 kilometers) in just 25 minutes. Benjamin Franklin describes the story in his diary:

We watched it take off in the most grandiose way. When they reached a height of about 250 feet, brave voyagers lowered their hats to salute the audience. We couldn’t help feeling a certain mix of admiration and admiration.

As is often the case in anecdotal geometry, the first human passengers were also the first victims of balloon accidents. Pilâtre de Rozier died on June 15, 1785, when his balloon, inflated by a combination of hydrogen and hot air, exploded during an attempt to fly across the English Channel.

Despite their controversial losses, the Montgolfier brothers continued their experiments, and in 1784 they built a huge balloon that could carry seven passengers to a height of 914 meters. This causes a sensation. Their success is celebrated with the most beautiful illustrations, prints, and even furniture designs. Even acrobatics ride balloons to add to the spectacle. And, of course, aerial photography takes a tremendous boost.


Shortly after this free flight (not grounded), the limitations of using hot air become clear: when the air cools, the balloon is forced down. Maintaining the fire comes with the risk that the sparks can ignite the balloon itself. Thus, a man named Jacques Alexandre César Charles, a well-known inventor and mathematician, launched a balloon containing only hydrogen.

With these and other advances, balloon travel was established. Setting aside the obvious implication that the montgolfier brothers inaugurated in the 18th century, let’s imagine that if it weren’t for the invention of the balloon, Jules Verne’s wonderful 1889 novel could never have been written (which in turn inspired one of history’s most interesting travels), and The legendary Sonora Aero Club, which has given us so much fun.