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Ballooning started in France in 1783 when the Montgofier brothers, Joseph and Jacques experimented with smoke filled balloons.  The Montgolfiers were paper makers who observed that small bits of paper rose into the air in a fire.  They assumed that the smoke furnished the lift so they used burning straw as a fuel.


The first passengers were a duck, rooster, and a sheep.  Their flight took them to     1,500 feet and landed them 2 miles away.  The animals were fine, however the rooster had a slight injury to its wing caused by a kick from the sheep.         

The first manned flight happened shortly thereafter on Nov. 21, 1783.  Marquis d’ Arlandes and Pilatre de Rozier were the first men to fly, over a century before airplanes.  Their flight took them to 3000 feet and a distance of 5 miles in about 1/2 hour.

  Ballooning became extremely popular and many experiments followed.  On Dec. 1, 1783 Professor J.A.C. Charles, a French physicist developed the Hydrogen Balloon.  He used a silk balloon filled with hydrogen generated by pouring sulfuric acid over iron filings.  Gas ballooning was to be the most popular form of ballooning for the next two hundred years.




Many of these flights frightened eighteenth century farmers when they descended out of the heavens to land.  After too many attacks with pitchforks, the early aeronauts learned to carry champagne to calm the landowners.  This is a great custom, which we honor today.




During the Civil War, (1861-1865), balloons were used by both Union and Confederate forces to spot enemy troops.  Information was then telegraphed or written messages were sent down a tether line to the ground.  In World War I the British used balloons to photograph areas under surveillance.




Besides their military use, balloons were popular for celebrating patriotic holidays, such as the 4th of July as well as appearing at County Fairs throughout the nation.




Modern day Ballooning started with Ed Yost in 1960 when he used propane to heat the air of a hot air a balloon.  Today the sport of hot air ballooning has evolved with the development of durable fabrics as well as efficient propane burner systems, making ballooning available to the general population.







Modern Day Accomplishments:




1978  Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzao, andLarry Newman make the first successful Transatlantic balloon flight by gas balloon, from Maine to France.  Ed Yost designed and built the gondola and helium balloon that carried them. 

1984  Joe Kittenger flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean in the helium-filled Rosie O'Grady from Preque Island, Maine to the Italian Rivera near Savona, Italy in just 86 hours. (Joe is best known for his high-altitude balloon flights and parachute jumps.  On Aug. 16, 1960 aboard the Excelsior 3, he climbed to 102,800 feet.  His parachute decent reached the speed of sound in a pressurized suit.  The free fall lasted 4.5 minutes.  This was all part of the "Project Excelsior" a pre astronaut project).



1987    Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson make the first crossing of the Atlantic by hot air balloon.  They touched down in Ireland, take off again, and are rescued at sea between Ireland and Scotland. 




1991        Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson become the first to cross the Pacific Ocean by  hot air balloon.  This time, they traveled from Japan to a frozen lake in Northwest Territories, Canada.  Traveling in the jet stream, they reach speeds as high as 239 miles per hour.




1997   Steve Fossett flies almost halfway around the world non-stop, from St. Louis, Mo. to Varranasi, India.

1998    Steve Fossett lifts off from Argentina in an Attempt to circle the globe nonstop.  After thirteen days his balloon is downed in a storm off of Australia.  The distance he traveled, 15,200 miles, is the furthest to date.




1999   One of the final goals of ballooning was achieved by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones.  This was the first ever around-the –world balloon flight.   One of the greatest feats of human endurance.  Starting in Switzerland and ending this fantastic journey in the sands of Egypt.




2002  Steve Fossett became the first person to fly around the world solo nonstop in a balloon.  He launched his balloon, Spirit of Freedom from Northam Western Austrialia and back to Queensland, Austrialia, a 14day trip.

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