No comments | Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The first balloons worked on the principle that when air is heated, it rises. They were filled with hot air by burning things under them, such as paper, straw and wool and even old shoes and rotten meat. But the balloons often caught fire the once the air cooled, they quickly came down. Soon after the first hot-air flights, people realized that the gas hydrogen could be instead. Hydrogen is the lightest of all elements- almost 15 times lighter than air. Gas balloon can also be filled with helium, which is not as light as hydrogen but does not catch fire so easily. Most balloons today use hot air made by burning propane gas. This can be carried in cylinders, so is comparatively safe.

The first hot-air balloon flight-
The first hot-air balloon flight
The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Etienne, tested their first unmanned hot-air balloon in the French town of Annonay on 5 June 1783. On 21 November 1783, Francois Laurent, Marquis d'Arlandes and Jean- Francois Pilatre de Rozier took off from the Bois de Boulogne, Paris in a Montgolfier hot-air balloon. During this first ever manned flight they travelled about 9km in 23 minutes.

First hydrogen balloon flight-
On 1 December 1783, Jacques Alexandre Cesar Charles and Nicholas-Louis Robert made the first flight in a hydrogen balloon. They took off from the Tuileries, Paris watched by a crowd of 400,000 and travelled 43km north to Nesle in about two hours. Charles then took off again alone, so becoming the first ever solo pilot.

First British flight-
On 27 August 1784 James Tytler,a doctor and newspaper editor, took off in a home-made balloon from comely Gardens, Edinburgh. He reached an altitude of 107m in a 0.8km hop.

First Channel crossing-
On 7 January 1785 Jean-Pierre Blanchard made the first Channel crossing in a balloon with Dr John Jeffries (the first American to fly). They also carried the first airmail letter. As they lost height, they had to reduce weight, so they threw almost everything overboard- including their clothes.

First flight in the USA-
On 9 January 1793 in Philadelphia, Blanchard made the first balloon flight in America. He took a small black dog with him as a passenger. The flight was watched by George Washington, who gave Blanchard a passport permitting his flight, which was the first pilot's licence and America's first airmail document.

First non-stop solo flight-
US millionaire and adventurer Steve Fossett made the first non-stop solo and fastest round the world balloon flight, 19 June-3 July 2002.


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