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Who Invented the Hot Air Balloon

Hot air balloon has always been an object of fascination for mankind, and that makes it all the more surprising that people have no idea about who invented it. Interestingly, the history of hot air ballooning can be traced back to the 18th century - way before the Wright Brothers developed the first airplane.
Hot air balloon is one of the oldest flight technology developed by humans, which works on the simple scientific principle - 'the warm air rises above the cold air'. It is one of the most fascinating objects developed by the mankind. Although, it can't be used for proper transportation from one place to another, as it is totally at the mercy of the force of the wind, it can be useful if you simply intend to derive the joy of being in the sky.

Hot Air Balloon History

The history of the hot air balloon is as fascinating as the object itself. Human beings have been fascinated by the flight of birds since ancient times. The urge to fly like the birds prompted humans undertake several attempts to soar in the skies. In 1766, Englishman Henry Cavendish propounded that, it was possible to use gas with negative weights, such as the hydrogen, to lift objects high in the sky. Around a decade and a half later, the efforts of two brothers in this direction, led to hot air balloon invention, and thus, created a history.

Invention of the Hot Air Balloon

The Montgolfier brothers - Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, are given the credit of being the hot air balloon inventors - a feat they achieved in the second half of the 18th century. In 1782, Joseph Michel Montgolfier successfully launched a silk bag with hot air towards the high ceiling of his house. The following year, he along with his brother Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier decided to take the experiment to the next level, and launched a larger bag filled with hot air in the sky. The experiment was again a success, with the hot air balloon soaring up in the air for about 10 minutes.

Later the same year, they sent a few farm animals in the sky in their hot air balloon. Every time they tasted success in their attempts, they became more confident about their experiment - and eventually decided to launch humans in the sky using this technology. In October, 1783, Montgolfier brothers successfully launched Jean Francois Piltre de Rozier and Marquis d'Artandes in the sky with a 70 feet tall, hot air balloon. This made Rozier and d'Artandes, the first humans to fly in the air with a hot air balloon. The duo used straw to fuel the fire, in order to keep the air in the balloon hot. The flight lasted for approximately 25 minutes, during which the balloon took them to a height of about 3000 feet in the sky. This hot air balloon flight was soon followed by the first hydrogen-filled balloon flight by Jacques Charles and Noel Roberts, in Paris, in December, 1783.

Hot air ballooning has become a popular hobby in many parts of the world today. If you find it interesting, then you should attend one of the several hot air balloon festivals held in many parts of the world throughout the year. The technology itself has witnessed quite a lot of development over the period of time. Today, the wicker baskets used in traditional hot air balloons have been replaced by bigger capsules, which facilitate the transportation of passengers over a longer distance.
By Abhijit Naik
Published: 2/1/2010
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