The First Hot-Air Balloon, Montgolfier Brothers


Invention of the first hot-air balloon

June 4, 1783: The day when the Montgolfier brothers — Joseph- Michel and Jacques-Etienne— publicly demonstrated that heated air had the potential to make a lightweight bag made of paper or fabric rise up in the air. The duo exhibited their discovery at a marketplace in Annonay, southern France, with an example of a hot-air balloon. Made of silk and lined with paper, the balloon as filled with heated air produced by burning a combination of straw and wool.

It rose 6,562 ft into the air and stayed afloat for around 10 minutes before landing more than a mile-and-a-half from its lift off point.

Later, the Montgolfier brothers carried out design modifications which paved the way for larger balloons. In the following years, further explorations led to the creation of hot air - balloons that could fly higher. In fact, the Montgolfier brothers went to Paris and then to Versailles to repeat the experiment with a larger balloon on September 19, 1783. This incident is categorically remembered for the unusual selection of its first set of passengers — a sheep, a rooster and a duck. After flying in the air for about eight minutes, the balloon landed safely, around two miles from its point of origin.

On November 21 the same year, Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier, one of the pioneers of aviation, made the first manned balloon flight in a Montgolfier balloon along with an army officer, the Marquis d’Arlandes. Rising 3,000 ft from the royal Chateau de la Muette grounds in Bois de Boulogne, the hot-air balloon travelled a distance of 5.5 miles from central Paris to its suburbs. With this accomplishment, the dream of human flight was now a reality.