Up, Up, and Away: The First Hot Air Balloon Launch

By | December 3, 2018

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Ascension in the meadow 1 December 1783), Anonymous, Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, France. (Photo by: Christophel Fine Art/UIG via Getty Images)

Today, hot air balloons are not an uncommon sight in the sky, but prior to September 19, 1783, no one had ever seen a hot air balloon. It took the ingenuity of the French to develop the concept of hot air balloons into a mode of air travel, paving the way for other inventions that would allow humans to soar with the birds. 

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The Montgolfier Brothers

Hot Air Rises

By the 1700s, it was common knowledge that hot air rises, but no one thought to harness this until two French brothers in the paper-making business figured out a way to trap the rising hot air. The brothers, Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, had observed how paper bags rise above a fire and theorized that it could also work on a larger scale. They set about making the world’s first hot air balloon, constructed of both paper and silk.