LT EN RU

The History of Ballooning

WE FLY, PLANE, DIVE IN AIR WISHING TO TRAVEL SOMEWHERE, TO RISE ABOVE THE LIMIT OF OUR POSSIBILITIES. WE FLY FURTHER, HIGHER, FASTER OR SLOWER SO THAT WE WOULD HAVE TIME TO SUBMERGE IN CLOUDS. NOWADAYS THERE IS A WIDE RANGE OF “FLYING OBJECTS”…HOT AIR BALLOONS, ISN’T IT THE BEGINNING?

French person Joseph Montgolfier was born in 1740. He felt great passion for new devices, which were very fashionable at that moment. Together with his younger brother Etienne Montgolfier, they often dreamt how a man would rise to the air. Brothers even had an idea to stuff tegument with clouds and this would carry the basket. However, they did not know how to implement that.

Once Joseph noticed that his shirt, which he was holding by the collar over the fire of the heart inflated and then an original idea came to his mind. He told about his discovery to his brother Etienne and they started to think what form the balloon, which they would use for their first experiments, could be.

Firstly they made a silk tegument of one solid metre. Warmed up over the fire the silk balloon rose into the height of 30 metres. It happened in November 1782. This date can be considered to be the beginning of ballooning.

On 14th December 1782 the balloon of 3 solid metres rose over the factory of Vidalone in Annonay town in France. Brothers Montgolfiers burnt wet straws mixed with wool and paper to obtain heat.

On 25th April 1783, a 800 solid metres balloon was raised to the height of 400 metres.


The first creators of hot air balloon – brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier


A weird object in the sky

The brothers were working secretly in their garden, but as experimental balloons were rising higher and higher, they feared that neighbours would see their invention and … “steal” the idea. Thus they decided to demonstrate balloon to the public in the main square of Annonay. The respectable people invited there had to witness that the pioneers of this idea were the Montgolfier. On 4th July 1783 the brothers organized the show. For this show in Cordillera square they made a 900 solid metres balloon: the brothers used spindle-shaped cotton strips, which they sew on sheets of paper and attached one to another by loops. The material was strengthened by vertical bars. Under the cotton hood they hung a basket for straw and wool. When the heated air raised the balloon the brothers cut the ropes.

The air balloon approximately in 10 minutes rose to the height of 1000 meters. The people who participated in the rising of air balloon could witness its authenticity: a protocol was put down, with which brothers Montgolfier applied to Paris Science Academy to be recognized as the creators of the first flying apparatus. This was the beginning of ballooning.

After ten minutes as the air in the casing cooled, the balloon landed in a field and caught fire from the flame smouldering in the basket. The peasants who were working nearby got frightened of the weird object that has fallen from the sky and, alas, did not try to extinguish it. The first hot air balloon was completely destroyed by the fire. 


On 4th June in the main square of Annonay town brothers Montgolfier demonstrated their balloon to the public

The Science Academy invited the brothers to demonstrate their invention and in August 1783 Etienne arrived to Paris. He got acquainted with several physicists interested in his invention and as well with Pilatre de Rozier. The latter would later become the first person who rose to the sky in an airship, which at the time was not yet called the “montgolfiere” (after the brothers Montgolfiers).

The first valiants: duck, rooster and sheep

Approximately at the same time a famous French physicist Jacques Alexandre Charles made the balloon filled with hydrogen gas. He thought that on 4th June 1783 brothers Montgolfier used hydrogen during presentation of their aerostat to the public. He wanted to rise up by a balloon and perform physical experiments. Together with brothers Roberts, Charles made a balloon “Le Globe”, 4 meters in diameter, which on 27th August 1783 rose from Mars Fields and landed in Gonesse north of Bourget. At that time nobody knew that such airship would be called “charliere” – after the physicist Charles.


On 19th September the first “aeronauts“ rose – a duck, a rooster and a sheep

Etienne performed many experiments in the gardens of paper maker Reveillon, Paris and decided to make another step – to raise a man to the air.

Pilatre de Rozier volunteered to be a passenger, but the flight was considered too dangerous as it was not known how the difference of altitude influenced the organism of an animal or any other living being. The inventors decided to let a duck, rooster and sheep for the first flight.

This happened in Versailles in September 1783. The rise was watched by king of France Louis XVI. The three animals were let into a basket and a balloon rose up. After the flight, which lasted 3 – 8 minutes, the animals landed sound in Vancresson (3 kilometres away). The sheep was calmly nibbling the straw. In fact, the rooster landed a bit plucked, but just because it got in sheep way…

Brothers Montgolfier have proved that living beings, except the birds, of course, can fly safelyi.

Montgolfier breaks the ice

On 15 October 1783, Wednesday, Montgolfier blew up the balloon and Pilatre de Rozier got into a round box attached at the bottom of the balloon. Pilatre rose about 25 metres – as much as the ropes allowed. On 17 October, Friday, the same experiment was repeated. The park was flooded by the pries, mostly – the prominent persons of Paris. This time the balloon rose to the altitude of 108 meters. Only Louis XVI did not approve that people would fly. The king felt responsible for their lives. After a long negotiation the ruler gave the permission but refused to participate himself. Brothers Mongolfier did not fly either as they had promised their father they would never fly their balloon (he was not sure whether his sons’ invention was completely safe). Thus Pilatre de Rozier was chosen for the flight. To keep the balance another passenger was necessary. Marquis d’Ariandes became the one. Passenger basket was divided into three parts: places for passengers on both sides and a brazier in the middle. If necessary, the passengers could put straw into fire and thus control the height of flight. On 21 November the first people rose to the air. It seems that Pilatre knew perfectly how to control the balloon. He knew exactly when the air had to be heated and when allowed to cool. Marquis d’Ariandes was less active – he wanted to get an eyeful of Paris from bird’s flight. Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d’Ariandes rose by Etienne Mongolfier’s balloon of 2200 solid meters in Muette (Paris) and landed in la Butte aux Cailles, 10 km away. The flight lasted 25 minutes, the balloon rose to the altitude of 1000 meters. To maintain the necessary heat wet straw, old material strips and rotten meat were burnt. The first flight of a man by an air balloon was successful. Brothers Montgolfiers were celebrating triumph.

Achievements and losses

  • On 1st December 1783 professor Charles and Robert rose by a balloon filled with hydrogen. They were watched by 400 000 spectators. Having risen in Paris they landed on the plain of Nesle after a two hour flight. Charles disembarked his fellow passenger and rose again to the altitude of 3000 meters. Charles’ gas balloon was nearly perfect: balloon casing was covered in warmish and shrouded by a net; the basket was woven of wickers; there was an appendage to fill by gas, a valve, ballast and an anchor. In the basket he even had a barometer and meteorological instruments.
  • The first woman to fly in an air balloon was Mrs. Thible (1784).
  • In 1874 in Lyon, Dijon, Marseille, Strasbourg and other European cities experimental flights were performed. The first commercial flight took place in Lyon. During it Joseph Mongolfier rose with 7 passengers.

The pilots of aerostats had a new dream – to fly over the Channel. For several years successively many flights and scientific experiments have been performed striving to improve the air balloon flight features. Pilatre made a hot air balloon to which a smaller hydrogen filled balloon was attached. Having not listened to Montgolfier, who thought it was too risky, in January 1785 Pilatre took off from France. A few minutes after the take off, when brazier’s fire reached the smaller balloon with hydrogen, the whole case flamed up immediately. Pilatre perished as the balloon fell down. He was not only the first man who rose into the air, but also the first victim.


 Garnerin’s parachute

On that day of November 1783 when Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d’Ariandes flew over Paris, in the crowd of several thousand of surprised Parisians there stood young Andre-Jacques Garnerin. The passion for air flights, which then arose did not leave him. Together with his teacher physicist, inventor of hydrogen aerostat, Jacques Charles, he rose into the air many times. At the end of 1796 and the beginning of 1797 in Paris, Garnerin made a hydrogen aerostat and tested it several times: firstly, not releasing the rope and then twice allowing the balloon to rise freely. During the second flight he tied a parachute to his dog and threw the animal out of the basket – the dog successfully reached the ground. On 22nd October 1797 Garnerin invited the tops of Paris to watch man’s first parachute jump. He attached a basket with a parachute to the balloon. Garnerin got into the basket and the balloon rose to the height of 400 meters. At 5:29 PM Garnerin cut the connecting ropes. Disturbed spectators watched the basket tumble in the air and did not expect Garnerin to stay alive. But the valiant only had the diagnosis of a mere bone wrench, which he sustained when hitting the ground.


On 21st November 1783 Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d‘Ariandes were the first to rise by an air balloon

On 12th October 1799 a woman performed a parachute jump for the first time. She was Jeanne Labrosse, Garnerin’s student, who later became his wife. In 1815 Garnerin’s niece Elisa began the career of a parachutist. She has performed even 39 parachute jumps. On 23rd August 1823 Garnerin died of a trauma, which he had sustained when preparing a platform for a take off: he was deadly injured by a balk, which fell on his head.

Higher and higher

In the 19th century balloons became an attribute of festivals. A balloon was flown on the day of coronation of Napoleon I, a day before the battle near Rome. Flights for scientific purposes were also continued. Balloonists were rising higher and higher: in June 1802 Humboldt and Bompland have risen by an air balloon and made many observations of temperature and barometer pressure.

In 1836 English aeronaut Green flew a distance of 800 km for the first time – from England to Nassau. In 1858 a journalist, caricaturist, photographer and artist, Nadar, having risen by a balloon as much as the ropes allowed, made the first picture out of the air.

Upon Nadar’s order a 6000 solid meters balloon “Le Geant” was made. Manufacturing costs were expected to be covered by paid flights. For the first time the balloon rose on 9th October 1863 from the fields of Mars and landed near Meaux.

On 18 October “Le Geant” flew from Paris with four passengers. In 16 hours it flew 600 km and landed in Hanover (Germany).

“The Giant“ of the sky flew passengers in Brussels, Amsterdam and Lyon, however the income received defrayed only a small part of expenses. In exhibition in 1867 Henry Giffard introduced the first balloon of 5000 solid meters, raised by steam. It came out on top; even the Empress wanted to try it. Similar balloons reigned in exhibitions for four decades. They became classical entertainment of exhibitions, allowing thousands of people to experience the feeling of getting off the ground for the first time.

The only means of communication

During the siege of Paris in 1870 Nadar suggested his services and all equipment to observe the actions of enemy. Balloons became the only means of communication with the suburbs of Paris. On 23 September 1870 - 28 January 1871, 66 balloons flew from Paris. 168 people, 400 pigeons and 11 tons of post (2 500 000 letters) were ferried by them. The most eminent passenger was the Minister of Home Affairs Leon Gambetta, who flew by “L’Armand Barbes” on 7 October 1870.

On laurels of popularity

The top of the exhibition of 1878 was a giant balloon, built by Giffard in the yard of building Tiulri. It was a giant the diameter of which was 36 metres and the height - 55 metres, its capacity reached 25 000 cubic metres pure hydrogen. The balloon could rise into the height of 600 m and the basket, the diameter of which was 6 metres, could place 50 passengers. On 10 July 1878 – 4 November 35 000 passengers flew in this giant. Everything was going swimmingly without any incidents. In the newspapers of these times fascination was expressed: Balloon! Who has not seen it yet. You could notice it from any square of Paris, it was flying over the streets, rising over the roofs. This giant appeared everywhere – from Bastille to Triumphal Arch. It was like a family member: an old scientist followed it by glances, a mother showed it to her children, husbands to wives (…). Everybody knew the giant. ( “ Pantheon of Industry”, 30 September 1878). In 1879 the giant was destroyed by hurricane.


1870 in France

After incredible deed of Giffard balloons spread all over the world. In 1884-1899 he demonstrated balloons in the majority of towns: Niece, Tiurren, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Rome, Copenhagen, Chicago, Mexico, Budapest, Leipzig, Cairo and Geneva.

The end of 19th century is significant because during this period balloons –probes were let to the air, which could take samples when having risen very high. This idea was born at the end of 18th century, however it was implemented only in 1899. In 1900 various new contests of air balloons started to be organised (to pass bigger distance in as short as possible period of time, to rise as high as possible and land in as much exact place).

However, quite soon the popularity of “Lighter than Air (hydrogen, hot air and helium balloons)” sagged.

Some of the events of the fourth decade (the explosion of Hinderburg Zeppelin ) rebounded on the image of dirigibles. It became clear that this meant of transport would not withstand the new wave, rolling in very fast – “Heavier than air” i.e. planes.

Some air balloons still existed till 1930 in Switzerland , the open-air circus of Kni ; the air balloon was used in acrobatic shows.

Contemporary air balloon

Despite everything, the scientist research was proceeded. Louis Godard, with the help of Cornier and Japy, replaced the previous brazier by an oil one.

On 27 May 1931 Auguste Piccard became the first human who rose to stratosphere by air balloon. Here he used his discovery – spherical capsule of permanent pressure.

In 1937 professor Hey Cosyns tries the burner of propane.

As new materials appeared, the idea of balloons was reborn and further improved. Ed Yost and Don Piccard establish “Reven-Industrie”. In such a way contemporary balloon appeared, which after a few years reached Europe being the same as we know it now.


Lietuvos sparnai 2003 Nr. 1-2

Interested? Have questions?
Recommend to a friend


Back

News

2014-04-10
Flying season 2014 is open!...

2009-12-14
Gift - Hot Air Balloon Flight...

2009-10-25
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta...

2009-09-10
The oldest man in a balloon...

News subscription

Address: Motorų str. 6, LT-02190 Vilnius, Lithuania
phone +370 5 273 27 03, fax + 370 5 273 27 02, mob. +370 652 005 10
email  info@ballooning.lt