November 21, 2008

The Friday Record - First Untethered Hot Air Balloon Ride

In 1783 two very brave souls soared through the sky near Paris, France. Physicist Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes, Francois Laurent, became the first men to ride a hot air balloon without a tether. According to Mike Flanagan in "It's About Time: How Long History Took," the ride lasted 25 minutes, the men rose almost 3,000 feet (more than half a mile) above the ground and flew almost six miles. The ride was witnessed by 400,000 people.

Jean-Francois and the Marquis d'Arlandes weren't the inventors of the hot air balloon, however. The inventors were brothers Joseph-Michel (below) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier(left). Joseph noticed the hot air rising above a fire and filled a pouch with hot air. Sure enough, it rose. From there the brothers tried other experiments, including flying a 38-foot linen bag one mile on June 14, 1783. On September 19, King Louis XVI watched as the brothers sent aloft a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The balloon floated for about 8 minutes and landed safely about 2 miles from the launch site.

Finally, on November 21st, the first manned flight took place.

The two brothers were later honored by the French Académie des Sciences. They published books on aeronautics and continued their scientific careers. Joseph invented a calorimeter and the hydraulic ram, and Étienne developed a process for manufacturing vellum.

So, it's quite possible for an author to put a hot air balloon ride in a novel anytime after 1783. And of course, you could have a fictitious person making a hot air balloon anytime before that, as well. It is called fiction for a reason....

Photos of brothers courtesy of the Musee Carnavalet, Paris; photograph, © Jacques Buchholz. Photo of balloon ©

~Anna Kathryn

1 comment:

Virginia said...

This is really interesting. In the summer they have a hot air balloon race here. They take off at a small airport near where I live. It is very beautiful to see them all take off and in the air.