At the turn of the 20th century people had the chance
to experience the magic of ballooning from the gondolas of tethered
gas balloons. 100 years later people can once again capture the magic
of ballooning in these modern marvels called Aerophiles.Please join
us as we take a look back at some of the highlights and history of ballooning.
Pumped full of poetry and magic, the balloon
has been an object of fascination for more than two centuries. The exploits
of lighter than air vessels have left their mark in the anals of time.
Enthusiastic crowds cheered the lift off of
the first balloons toward the end of the 18th century. During the second
half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, people
have the chance to experience the magic of ballooning from the gondolas
of tethered balloons.
1776 An Englishman,
Henry Cavendish, using a combination of sulfuric acid and iron, discovers
Ground crew, 1910
Charles launches The Globe, an unmanned hydrogen balloon, which traveled
15 miles and reached an altitude of 3000 feet. The balloon landed in
Gonesse where the locals attacked the balloon with pitchforks, destroying
September 19th, 1783 A
sheep, a duck and a rooster become the first passengers in a hot air
balloon. The Montgolfier brothers, Jaçques Etienne and Joseph Michel,
launched a balloon made of paper and cloth after Louis XVI had decreed
that the first flight should be flown with animals. The balloon rose
to about 6000 feet, and landed safely.
1783 The first recorded manned
flight in a hot air balloon takes place in Paris. Built from paper and
silk by the Montgolfier brothers, this balloon was piloted on a 22 minute
flight by Jean François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis François-Laurent
The palace at Versiales,
From the center of Paris they ascended 500 feet
above the roof tops before eventually landing about 6 miles away in
the vineyards. Local farmers were very suspicious of this fiery dragon
descending from the sky. The pilots offered champagne to placate them
and to celebrate the flight, a tradition carried on by balloonists to
December 1st, 1783 The
first manned gas balloon is launched by Jaçques Alexander Charles and
Nicholas Louis Robert. Starting in Paris, the flight lasted 2 1/2 hours
and covered a distance of 25 miles. Upon landing, Robert stepped out
of the basket, which caused the balloon to rise again, this time to
about 9000 feet. Charles later landed safely. Today, in France, gas
balloons are known as Charliers and hot air balloons are known as Montgolfiers.
Early Aerophile over
January 19th, 1784 In
Lyon, France, the only recorded flight by Joseph Montgolfier is made
in a balloon that had a cubic capacity of over 700,000 cubic feet. This
would equate to a passenger capacity of around 30 people! It was one
of the largest balloons ever made. The flight only lasted 20 minutes
due to a rip in the fabric.
September 15th, 1784 An
Italian, Vincenzo Lunardi, makes the first balloon flight in England.
The 18,000 cubic foot balloon flew from the Artillery grounds at Moorfields
and landed in Long Mead, near Ware. His passengers included a dog, a
cat and a pigeon (in a cage).
November 30th, 1784 Launching
their balloon from Rhedarium Garden, London, another Frenchman, Jean-Pierre
Blanchard and an American, John Jeffries, make their first flight. On
January 7th, 1785 the same team of Blanchard and Jeffries became the
first to fly across the English Channel.
The fantasy of flight
June 15th, 1785 The
first casualties from ballooning occur when a hybrid gas/hot-air balloon
piloted by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and his passenger, one M.
Romaine catches fire and explodes while attempting an English Channel
crossing. Today, hybrid balloons (using a combination of gas and hot
air lift) are known as "Roziers"
January 9th, 1793 The
first flight of a balloon in America occurs in Philadelphia from the
Walnut Street Prison Yard and is piloted by Jean Pierre Blanchard. Blanchard
had also flown the first ascents in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.
In the early 1800's American
aeronauts, including Charles Durant, Thaddeus Lowe, John La Mountain,
Rufus Wells and John Wise continue to design, construct and fly both
gas and hot air balloons.
Jaçques Garnerin celebrates Napoleon's coronation
by launching an unmanned balloon, ablaze with lights from the city of
Paris. Unfortunately, it crashed into a statue of Nero outside of Rome,
which was considered a personal insult by Napoleon.
During this same time frame, Joseph Gay-Lussac
flew to about 20,000 feet and recorded scientific observations of the
Tethered gas balloons are used by both sides
during the American Civil War for observation of troop movements. Balloons
had been used for this purpose as early as 1794 in France.
Balloons are used to carry refugees and mail
out of Paris during the siege of that city by Prusso-German forces.
One hundred people escape, along with over 2 million letters.
July, 1897 Swedish
aeronaut Salomon Andree makes an attempt to reach the North Pole in
a balloon named Eagle. A message sent by carrier pigeon on the
third day was the only news. Thirty three years later, the remains of
the crew were discovered by Norwegian explorers.
James Gordon Bennett, a New York newspaper owner,
sponsors a silver trophy for a long distance international balloon race.
The first race started in Paris, and was won by an American, Frank Lahm,
who landed after 22 hours in Yorkshire, England. By the terms of the
race, the winner's country was the host for the next year's race, which
was held in St. Louis in 1907. Twenty six races were held between 1906
and 1938, in six different nations. The race was revived in 1979 and
continues today as the premier gas balloon race in the world.
Auguste Piccard invents the airtight cabin, based
on the bathysphere, enabling him and an assistant to ascend to 51,775
feet. In 1932 he flew to 53,152 feet to study cosmic rays.
October 3, 1934 Jeannette
Piccard, pilots a balloon with her husband Jean (Auguste's twin brother)
aboard to 57,579 feet for cosmic ray studies and lands safely.
1935 A. W. Stephens and O. A. Anderson
reach a height of over 74,000 feet in a huge (3.7 million cubic feet)
helium balloon Explorer II. They launch from the "stratobowl"
in South Dakota, later to be the scene of the first successful modern
hot air balloon flight.
1947 Don Piccard,
son of Jean and Jeannette Piccard, used a military surplus Japanese
gas balloon for what was probably the first post-war free balloon flight,
ushering in the modern era of ballooning. Mr. Piccard made his first
balloon flight in 1933.
Cdr Malcom Ross and Lcdr Victor Prather rise
to 113,739.9 feet in a balloon called Lee Lewis Memorial.
Out West purchases first balloon
Federation of America started
Colorado Balloon club started
of the Double Eagle. First balloon flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
gas balloon flight over the continental divide. Aspen Colorado to points
non stop flight around the world. Breitling Orbiter III
first tethered gas balloon in Colorado.
copyright 2004, GIGANTICA