The History of Hot Air Ballooning

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! This time we will look at some of my favorite space pilots. After you read the list, won’t you add some of your favorites!

Well I’m not the first to float around attached to a balloon. Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! Though, I might of had the most fun! So lets look at its history!

  • Brazilian priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão on August 8, 1709, in Lisbon, made a small hot-air balloon of paper with a fire burning beneath it, lifting it about 13 ft in front of king John V and the Portuguese court.
  • On the 19th September 1783 Pilatre De Rozier launched the first hot air balloon called ‘Aerostat Reveillon’ with a duck and a rooster.  It stayed in the air for 15 minutes before crashing.
  • Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier were the first men to attempt 2 months later on 21st November. It took off from the center of Paris and flew for 20 minutes.
  • Two years later in 1785  Jean Pierre Blanchard and his American co pilot John Jefferies became the first to fly across the English Channel.
  • This same year Pilatre de Rozier (the world’s first balloonist) was killed in crossing the channel. His balloon exploded half an hour after takeoff because he used a hydrogen balloon and hot air balloon tied together that went kaboom!
  • Then on January 7th 1793 Jean Pierre Blanchard became the first to fly a hot air balloon in North America. George Washington witnessed the event.
  • August of 1932 Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard was the first to fly to the Stratosphere. He reached a 52,498 feet. Afterwards altitude records continued to be set and broken every couple of months.
  • In 1935 a new record was set and it lasted for the next 20 years. The balloon Explorer 2, a gas helium model reached an altitude of 72,395 feet (13.7 miles)! It was proven that we could survive in a pressurized chamber at high altitudes. This paved the way for future space exploration.
  • In 1960 Captain Joe Kittinger parachuted  from a balloon that was at a height of 102,000 feet. It also beat the high altitude parachute record. His body broke the sound barrier!!!

I remember an episode of Connections in which a scientist sent  two men up in a balloon using a  high-altitude oxygen system which used a vacuum flask of liquid oxygen to supply them for one hour at 15,000 feet in 1919. Only one chose to trust the device and only one man came back to the ground alive… Go figure!

~Max

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