Up, up and away

Published on August 26th, 2011
Up, up and away

Hot air balloons didn’t just spring up out of nowhere. Thanks to brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier’s innovative thinking, we can enjoy the view from up there in a rather different way.

The brothers owned a paper mill and they had observed that smoke tended to rise and that paper bags placed over a fire expanded and also rose, pushed upward by the hot air. They then concluded that if they could only capture what they thought was a unique gas inside an enclosed lightweight bag, this container or bag would rise from the ground.

After much success the brothers decided to build a bigger balloon and flew the first passengers in a basket suspended below a hot-air balloon: a sheep, a rooster, and a duck.

Exactly 227 years ago to the day, Jacques Alexandre César Charles, a member of the French Academy of Science, successfully tested a new type of balloon in which hydrogen replaced air in a silk bag that had been treated with an elastic gum so that hydrogen could not readily pass through it.

On the 1st of December 1783, the balloon successfully took off before a crowd of 400 000 people, carrying Charles and his assistant. The balloon covered 43 kilometres before landing safely.

Have you ever gone for a hot air balloon ride before?

Pic credit: ronnie44052

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