In 1783, two brothers demonstrated their invention, the balloon, before a crowd of dignitaries in Annonay, France.
Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, prosperous papermakers (a high-tech industry at the time), experimented with devices lighter than air after observing that hot air directed at a paper or fabric bag caused the bag went up After several successful tests, the brothers decided to publicly demonstrate their invention.
The montgolfiers he built a balloon made of silk and lined with paper that was 33 feet (10 meters) in diameter and launched, with no one on board, from the market in Annonay on June 4, 1783, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The balloon rose to between 5,200 and 6,600 feet (1,600 to 2,000 m) and stayed in the air for 10 minutes, traveling more than a mile (about 2 kilometers).
The news of the success of the brothers spread quickly, and a demonstration was planned for the King of France. For this flight, the brothers had the help of Jean-Baptiste Réveillon, a successful manufacturer of wallpaper, according to the Palace of Versailles museum. The inventors constructed a balloon approximately 30 feet (9 m) in diameter made of taffeta and coated with an alum varnish for fire protection. The influence of Réveillion was evident, since the globe was decorated with golden ornaments, signs of the zodiac and suns, symbolizing together the French monarch of the time, King Louis XVI.
There was some concern about the effects of high altitude on humans. The king proposed a test with prisoners, but the Montgolfiers suspended a basket under the globe containing a sheep, a duck and a rooster, according to Time magazine. The idea was scientifically sound: it was thought that the sheep's physiology was similar to that of a human; It was unlikely that the flying duck was damaged, so it was used as a control. And the rooster was included as an additional control because, although it was also a bird, it did not fly at great heights.
The balloon and its animal pbadengers took off on September 19, 1783. The flight lasted 8 minutes and was witnessed by the French king, Marie Antoinette and a crowd of 130,000. The device flew about 2 miles (3.2 km) before landing safely.
First manned flight
The next step of the Montgolfiers was to try a balloon with a person as a pbadenger. On October 15, 1783, the brothers threw a balloon tied with Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a professor of chemistry and physics, on board. It remained in the air for almost 4 minutes, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Approximately one month later, on November 21, Pilâtre de Rozier and Marquis d'Arlandes, a French military officer, made the first free ascent on a hot air balloon. The couple flew from the center of Paris to the suburbs, about 5.5 miles (9 km), in 25 minutes. Benjamin Franklin wrote in his diary about witnessing the takeoff of the globe:
"We watched it take off in the most majestic way, when it reached about 250 feet [76 m] in height, the intrepid travelers lowered their hats to greet the spectators. We could not help feeling a certain mixture of amazement and admiration. "
The first human pbadenger was also the first victim of balloon trips. Almost two years after this flight, Pilâtre de Rozier died on June 15, 1785, when his balloon, filled with a combination of hydrogen and hot air, exploded during an attempt to fly through the English Channel, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Advances in hot air balloons.
On January 19, 1784, in Lyon, France, a huge balloon built by the Montgolfiers carried seven pbadengers up to 3,000 feet (914 m), According to the United States Centennial Flight Commission..
At that time, the Montgolfiers believed they had discovered a new gas (which they called Montgolfier gas) that was lighter than air and caused the inflated balloons to rise, according to the Canadian Broadcast Corp. Actually, the gas was simply air, It became more floating as it got warmer. The balloon rose because the air inside was lighter and less dense than the surrounding atmosphere, which pushed against the bottom of the globe.
The limitations of the use of air for the flight were soon evident; When the air cooled, the balloon was forced to descend. Keeping a fire lit on board created the risk of sparks setting the bag on fire. Other means of keeping a balloon high were considered. On December 1, 1783, less than two weeks after the first free flight, Jacques Alexandre César Charles launched a balloon containing hydrogen, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Nowadays, balloons are commonly used in scientific investigations of the upper atmosphere. Occasionally, specially designed high-rise balloons also have it took people to the stratosphere; Some people have made parachute jumps in the extremely thin air. The balloons have been considered. for space missions to SaturnVenus and Mars, but until now, Earth is the only planet that has hosted this type of expedition.
This article was updated on April 9, 2019 by the collaborator of Space.com, Elizabeth Howell.