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History of Ballooning

Hot Air Balloons were the first airborne ship to take man aloft. Flying is commonplace now but rarely is hot air ballooning remembered for its contributions to manned flight. In fact balloons were first in manned flight, first to break the speed of sound, and first in space. Your adventure in ballooning will be no different than those of the men and women in history. It will be filled with anticipation, spectacular views, thrills and sensations, and the comrade of the accomplishment. Join balloonist history now.

The Montgolfier brothers, Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier, were born in Annonay France in the 1740's. They were brothers to 14 other children and sons of Pierre Montgolfier, whose paper factory provided the brothers with ample materials and resources to experiment. In 1782 they discovered that air heated and trapped in a paper envelope would rise above the air around it. Later that same year the brothers proved their theory when a balloon they constructed rose to several thousand feet aloft and traveled for a distance of over 1 mile.

November 21, 1783 records the first manned flight in a hot air balloon. Lifting aloft in Paris, France two noblemen of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette took flight in a paper lined silk balloon crafted by the Montgolfier brothers. The flight lasted for 22 minutes flying 500 feet above the countryside from the center of town into the grape vineyards of the countryside.

In 1785 only 3 years following the invention of the hot air balloon, two men a French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and the first American balloonist John Jefferies became the first men to fly across the English channel. Jean-Pierre Blanchard later became the first man to pilot a balloon in North America. In 1973 Blanchard flew a balloon in America and was witnessed by George Washington.

Ballooning spread throughout the globe by the early 1800's but would not become commonplace or an organized form of flying until the early 1960's. Ballooning spent almost 175 years waiting for the development of lightweight high performance fabrics which came in part from the development of synthetic rubber and other fabrics born from the necessities of WWII. Born in 1960 was Raven Industries of Sioux Falls, South Dakota an American company whose main products were plastics for the agricultural industry. Raven pioneered synthetic envelopes, continuous burners, petroleum fuel supplies and woven baskets to mention a few advancements.

Other ballooning moments worth note:

1932 Swiss Aeronaut Auguste Piccard 1 st manned flight into the stratosphere (52,498 feet).

1935 Explorer 2 reaches an altitude of 72,395 feet a record that lasted for 20 years. This flight also was the first flight that proved that man could survive in a pressure suit in extremely high atmosphere.

1960 Captain Joe Kittinger parachute jumped from a balloon that was at a height of 102,000 feet. Captain Kittinger passed through the sound barrier while in free fall.

1978 the Double Eagle Flies across the Atlantic Ocean.

1981 The Double Eagle V crosses the Pacific Ocean.

1987 Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson fly a hot air balloon across the Atlantic. They flew 2,900 miles in 33 hours. Their balloon at the time was the largest ever flown containing 2.3 million cubic feet of air.

1991 Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson fly across the Pacific Ocean a distance of 6,700 miles in 47 hours flying at times at speeds of 245 mph.

1999 The first round the world flight was completed by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones. Leaving from Switzerland and landing in Africa they flew for 19 days 21 hours and 55 minutes.

Your adventure awaits you now!