History of hot air ballooning – A timeline - Oct 21, 2021

1783 - September 19

Scientist Francois Pilatre De Rozier launched his 'Aerostat Reveillon - the first hot air balloon on record. However, the balloon rose off the ground for only 15 minutes before landing back on the ground. Thankfully the ballooning passengers - a sheep, a duck, and a rooster - survived.

History of hot air ballooning – A timeline

Image credit: Time Magazine

1783 - November 21

Only two months after De Rozier’s attempt, the Montgolfier brothers Joseph and Etienne launched the first manned balloon in Paris. Made from paper and silk the balloon was manned by Francois Pilatrê de Rozier and Francois Laurent. The 20 minute flight over the city was a success and marked the beginning of the ballooning industry.

1785 - January 7

After De Rozier’s failed attempt to cross the channel in his experimental hydrogen x hot air balloon, later the same year, French Balloonist Jean Pierre Blanchard, and American Co Pilot, John Jeffries successfully flew across the English Channel. A big step in long distance travel and a major turning point in ballooning history.

History of hot air ballooning – A timeline

Image credit: The Lighter-Than-Air Society

1793 - January 9

Jean Pierre Blanchard became the first to fly a hot air balloon in North America. George Washington was present to see the balloon launch.

1800’s - 1950’s

For about 150 years the hot air ballooning industry was relatively dormant.

After their invention in 1983, gas balloon slowly eclipsed hot air balloons. Hydrogen gas balloons became the preferred method of aviation until the Wright brothers invented the fixed wing aircraft in 1903. 

Late 1950s

Ed Yost revived the art of manned hot air ballooning by coming up with the bright idea of each balloon carrying its own fuel source. Prior to Yosts development, the air contained in the balloon envelope was either heated on the ground, or with an on-board fire.

1960 - October 22

Using his new propane burners, Yost undertook the first modern hot air balloon flight in Bruning, Nebraska flying for one hour and 35 minutes. 

1963

Yost and Don Piccard, flying “The Channel Champ”, became the first to fly a hot air balloon across the English Channel, thereby proving the practicality of hot air ballooning.   

1987

Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand were the first to cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon. Setting multiple records, the pair flew over 4,600km in 33 hours in the world's largest balloon.

History of hot air ballooning – A timeline

Image credit: Bussiness Insider

1988

Per Lindstand set the World Altitude Record, achieving the highest recorded solo flight in a hot air balloon = 65,000 feet!

1991

Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand paired up again to become the first to cross the Pacific in a hot air balloon. They travelled 6,700 miles in 47 hours, from Japan to Canada breaking the world distance record, traveling at speeds of up to 245 mph.

2002 - June 19

Steve Fossett’s 180ft tall hybrid gas and hot air balloon flew around the world. Launching from Northern in Western Australia,  and landing 14 days, 19 hours and 51 minutes later in the eastern Australian Outback, Fossett became the first man to circumnavigate the world solo in a hot air balloon.

2021

American company ‘Space Perspective' began selling tickets for balloon flights to ‘the edge of space’! Their capsule balloon ‘Neptune’ will begin flying passengers into space in 2024. 

History of hot air ballooning – A timeline

(Artists illustration of the view from inside Neptune's capture) 

Image credit: Space Perspective


by Grace Smith

History of hot air ballooning – A timeline

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