The hot air balloon

The beginnings 
of hot air balloon

To enhance the confinement due to COVID-19, we have committed to continuing to publish information and knowledge about hot air balloons.
In the first post we talked about the different parts of a hot air balloon. In the second post we talked about how does a hot air balloon fly.

Today we will summarize the history of the hot air balloon, the mean of transportation that has remained most intact since its invention.

In 1783 it was the year the sky was conquered thanks to the hot air balloon and the famous Montgolfier brothers. However, in 1709 the priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão made the first demonstration of ascending an unmanned hot air balloon at the Casa de Indias in Lisbon. The Holy Inquisition persecuted him for this discovery and he had to go into exile in Toledo, where he died at the young age of 39.

1783, the race to conquer the sky

In 1782 the Montgolfier brothers rethinked Bartolomeu's invention, observing how the smoke rose.

On June 4, 1783 they made the first demonstration in front of the local nobility and a large number of people in the main square of Annonay. There they lit a bonfire under a large balloon made of cloth and paper. The balloon was held by 8 men. When they released the balloon, it rose. The balloon covered about 2km and fell in the middle of a field, where it was blown to pieces by a group of frightened peasants.

On August 27, 1783, Professor Jacques Charles and the Robert brothers raised a different model of balloon, with hot air and a gas discovered a few years ago, hydrogen. This balloon traveled about 20km and landed about 45 minutes later. Once again, the balloon was smashed by frightened peasants when they saw a cloth fall from the sky.

On September 19, 1783, in the presence of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Étienne Montgolfiere raised a balloon that carried a sheep and some birds, all locked in a cage, because they wanted to know if an animal could survive that high. The balloon rose about 500m and landed in a forest. The animals survived and this made way for the first manned hot air balloon flight.

On November 21, 1783, the scientist Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis de Arlandes were the first aeronauts in history. They took off in a balloon that heated their interior with a bonfire that they were feeding. The balloon rose in Paris and flew over the city for about 25 minutes.

From this first flight, the technique was perfected and just 10 days later Jacques Charles and Nicola-Louis Robert flew with a balloon that allowed height control with sandbags that were thrown overboard to remove weight.

You can read more about the parts of the hot air balloon here.
You can read more about how a hot air balloon flies here.

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