The Hot Air Balloon is the oldest successful flight technology that held people. This invention is in a class of aircraft known as: Balloon Aircraft. Pre-modern & Unmanned hot air balloons were very popular in Chinese history. It was used in the Three Kingdoms era (220–280 AD). In this time frame these pre-modern balloons were used as airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns. The concept of the first manned balloon was birthed from two brothers, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier. The two brothers came from a family of paper-makers in Annonay, France. These Frenchmen tried to capture smoke from their fireplace in a paper bag, and as a result it rose. When the smoke cooled down the sack would fall, this gave them the idea to make a real balloon in 1783. But before their first tethered balloon flight with humans on October 15, 1783, the Montgolfier brothers experimented with unmanned balloons and common farm animals.
When they that the balloon was safe enough they launched their first free flight with human passengers on November 21, 1783. The first balloon was recorded to be 35 ft in diameter and had a capacity of 23,000 cubic ft, and it was made of linen lined paper. Within weeks they released a balloon to a height of 6,000 ft and these aircraft traveled about an estimate of 2 miles. 1783 became the milestone year for aviation; some say that the dream of flying was finally realized. Ballooning was like a fever and it was catching fast. Within the same time frame, two brothers emerged by the name of Robert. They got help from a physicist named JAC Charles. The Robert brothers coated the silk balloons with rubber so the gas wouldn’t leak. The physicist wanted to apply his idea of using hydrogen to make the balloons float.
Later, Charles became very famous for his ideas and test flights .In these test flights the silk balloons were filled with hydrogen and were released from iron filings that would be called Charlieres. Everyone including Benjamin Franklin, who was living in France at the time, was impressed with the Montgolfier brother’s work. By 1785, everyone was ready to fly. On June 29, 1785, the first woman took flight, Mrs. Sage of England, and she landed safely as well as the scientists that experimented with ballooning.
Also in 1785, the first American became a passenger, Dr. John Jeffries, and he paid 100 pounds for this privilege to ride. The first military use of a hot air balloon happened during the battle of Fleurus in 1794. The French used the hot air balloon as an observation post. With all the excitement not everyone was aware of how dangerous ballooning was, in fact many balloons would catch fire and the passengers would die. Even De Rozier (1785) tried to cross the English Channel with his brother and they died because their balloon burst into flames.
In conclusion, it could be said that this aircraft (hot air balloon) lead to many other creations such as the airplane, helicopter, etc. It proved that humans could soar in the sky with the birds. It was a true phenomenon. Also here is a picture of the first manned hot air balloon by the Montgolfier brothers:
* Clark, Liesl. “A Short History of Ballooning.” PBS. PBS, 30 Nov. 0097. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/short-history-of-ballooning.html>. * “Hot Air Balloon.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Mar. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_air_balloon>. * “Hot Air Balloon History – Invention of the Hot Air Balloon.” The Great Idea Finder. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/haballoon.htm>. * Boyne, Walter J. The Smithsonian book of Flight. Smithsonian Books. Washington, D.C. 1987 * Fraser. The Story of Aircraft. Thomas Y. Crowell Company. New York 1933