The Curious and Peculiar Story of the Very First Air Balloon Trip


Flying is more than a capacity that the human being has reached with technical abilities, creating surprising inventions and reaching technological advances over the years. It’s the ultimate dream. Mankind touching the skies is one of the biggest accomplishments and there have been different stages through this road in the history of the aviation, often with tragic chapters, other times with successful advances that, little by little, have allowed us to move our world and put people out in the space.

Pretty cool, right?

But before the first step on the moon or the first car on orbit, one of those key episodes in the history of the aviation is the hot air balloon. One invention that surprised an entire generation. It offered a new stage for human beings to try to take off the ground. In fact, from the first crewed hot air balloons, the history of the aviation changed forever.

The First Crew

The stories behind the first manned trip in a hot air balloon are fascinating. It was a June 4, the year 1783. Two visionary brothers presented their invention: the hot air balloon; Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, they mounted a public presentation of the inner functioning of their creation. In order to demonstrate how the globes work, they use a lamb, a duck, and a rooster, three animals that would turn into the first live beings that ever travelled this way.

This initial trip with the animals was a necessary requirement so that a flight manned by humans was authorized. The lamb, the duck, and the rooster rose over 2 kilometres and the trip lasted approximately 10 minutes. The three lucky animals returned home safely and the Montgolfier brothers obtained the permission to make the desired test flight with a human crew.

Finally, this first human manned flight took place in October of the same year and was accomplished by a professor specialized in chemistry and physics, called Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. His brief trip, lasted only 4 minutes it was completed without any incidents.

The Feats of the Montgolfier Brothers

After the amazing public demonstration performed in Versailles, that was witnessed by the very same Louis XVII of France and Marie Antoinette, other members of the royalty and a big public crowd of at least 130 thousand witnesses, the dreams of the brothers Montgolfier become more ambitious.

On November 21 of the year 1783, the professor Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis D’Arlandes flew during 25 minutes to a height of 100 meters over Paris, they moved approximately 9 kilometres in their initial trip. This one being the first trip driven by two people, opened the door to more, and increasingly daring, flights for example on January 7, 1785, Jean Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries would travel in globe across the channel of La Mancha.

Present Day

Nowadays these globes are also known as montgolfières, and they opened the path to other inventions like airships and zeppelins. Through the years, aerostats were improved and they are now the stars of popular festivals and demonstrations around the world. New materials, techniques, fuels, and the evolution of the mechanisms to control them allowed them to stay relevant and their colors and designs keep delighting us. All thanks to a duck, a lamb and a rooster, who’d say?