Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, paper mill owners, were trying to float bags made of paper and fabric. When the brothers held a flame near the opening at the bottom, the bag (called a balon) expanded with hot air and floated upward. The Montgolfier brothers built a larger paper-lined silk balloon and demonstrated it on June 4, 1783, in the marketplace at Annonay. Their balloon (called a Montgolfiere) lifted 6,562 feet into the air.
On September 19, 1783, in Versailles, a Montgolfiere hot air balloon carrying a sheep, a rooster, and a duck flew for eight minutes in front of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the French court.
First Manned Flight
On October 15, 1783, Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d'Arlandes were the first human passengers on a Montgolfiere balloon. The balloon was in free flight, meaning it was not tethered. On January 19, 1784, a huge Montgolfiere hot air balloon carried seven passengers to a height of 3,000 feet over the city of Lyons.
Not until 1960 did modern hot-air ballooning as we know it begin its introduction onto the American scene. From 1960 until today, ballooning has introduced millions of “lighter-than-air enthusiasts” to the magic and mystery of these gentle giants. Hundreds of safety innovations have taken place insuring all on board a fun-filled, safe and awe-inspiring adventure.
Frenchman, Jacques Charles invented the first hydrogen balloon in 1783.
Less than two weeks after the ground-breaking Montgolfier flight, the French physicist Jacques Charles (1746-1823) and Nicolas Robert (1758-1820) made the first untethered ascension with a gas hydrogen balloon on December 1, 1783. Jacques Charles combined his expertise in making hydrogen with Nicolas Robert's new method of coating silk with rubber.
Charlière Hydrogen Balloon
The Charlière hydrogen balloon exceeded the earlier Montgolfier hot air balloon in time in the air and distance traveled. With its wicker gondola, netting, and valve-and-ballast system, it became the definitive form of the hydrogen balloon for the next 200 years. The audience in the Tuileries Gardens was reported as 400,000, half the population of Paris.
The limitation of using hot air was balloonsthat when the air in the balloon cooled, the balloon was forced to descend. If a fire was kept burning to warm the air constantly, sparks were likely to reach the bag and set it afire. Hydrogen overcame this obstacle.