ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Oldest Form of Aviation: The Hot Air Balloon

Updated on July 28, 2020
1783  First Hot Air Balloon Flight
1783 First Hot Air Balloon Flight | Source
The French King XIV Witnessing Flight
The French King XIV Witnessing Flight
The Montgolfer Brothers 1783
The Montgolfer Brothers 1783 | Source

The Beginning of Aviation 1783

The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Jacques, were prosperous paper manufactures, and they devised and built their hot air balloon made of silk and lined with paper. Their balloon measured 33 feet in diameter. Although the balloon rose between 5200-6600 feet and lasted only ten minutes, it created a thrill for King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, along with the 130,000 crowds gazing in amazement.

Early hot air balloons were made of silk and extremely expensive. The fuel used at that time was a combination of burned straw, chopped wood, and horse manure. Not only dangerous, but the smell would be nauseous. During the Franco-Prussian War in the 1870s, hot air balloons were extremely useful for surveillance. Today, the balloons are made of nylon, or Nomax, which is a fire retardant material, and the fuel is now helium or propane. The Gondola was usually made of bamboo weaved together, lightweight but sturdy.

Hot air balloons were making news, and soon competition by 'aviators' were striving to be the first swelling the scientists rushing to set aviation records.

It wasn't long before America was to have their first hot air balloon flight. In 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard flew from Philadelphia to Gloucester, New Jersey.

Fast Forward to 20th and 21st Centuries of Highlights of Hot Air Balloons

Its been over two hundred years since the first hot air balloon was launched, and today, we can enjoy hot air balloon rides, festivals, and take advantage of the weather balloons for necessary information.

Many firsts have been made since the inception of 'flying.' The daring and brave men who paved the way for aviation gave us a look into the future. They would probably be amazed at how far progress has been made.

Here are some highlights of the beginning of aviation

  • 1931 In May, Auguste Piccard and Paul Kipfer took off from Augsburg, Germany, and reached an altitude of 51,775 (9.8 miles). This flight made them the first humans to enter the stratosphere and the first to visually observe the curvature of the Earth. They made two other attempts reaching a final record of 75,459 feet.
  • 1937 Piccard's interest now shifted to the deep sea, and he designed and built a bathyscaphe to dive the deep sea. Things were put on hold during WWII, but in 1945, Piccard and his son dove a record of 10,335 feet.
  • 1960 Captain Jack Kittinger parachuted from a hot air balloon at 102,000 feet. This set a record for a balloon flight, and Kittinger broke the sound barrier with his body!
  • 1973 The First Balloon World Championship was held in Albuquerque, N.M
  • 1978 The first Transatlantic helium/gas balloon flight from Maine to France by Ben Abruzzo, May L. Anderson, and Larry Nelson, record 137 hrs., 6 min, for 3108 miles.
  • 1987 First Transatlantic hot air balloon flight by Sir Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand flying The Atlantic Flyer. It was the largest balloon measuring 2.3 million cubic feet with speeds over 130 mph, taking 33 hours
  • 1999 The First Round the World helium/hot air flight by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones in 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes
  • 2002 The First Solo Round the World helium/hot air flight by American Steve Fossett, the Spirit of Freedom, 13 days, 22,100 miles
  • 2005 The First Female Altitude Attempt by Lindsay Muir but turbulence and high winds forced a failed attempt
  • 2005 The World High Altitude set by Vijaypat Singhania reached 69,850 from Bombay, India landed 150 miles away in Panchali
  • 2011 The largest Mass Balloon Assent of 329 balloons as they set off from Lorraine Mondial, France.
  • 2020 NASA announces the plan to build the largest balloon, the size of a football field to study the stratosphere 24 miles from Earth's surface to study how stars and planets are formed. The expedition will take 3-4 weeks with special infrared telescopes called ASTHROS, an acronym for Atrophsies Stratospheric Telescope for High-Speed Resolution Observation. It is set to depart on 12/2023.

1999 First Round the World
1999 First Round the World
First Solo Around the World Spirit of Freedom
First Solo Around the World Spirit of Freedom
2011 Mass Balloon Assent
2011 Mass Balloon Assent
NASA Project to study Stars and Planets
NASA Project to study Stars and Planets
Altitude Scale
Altitude Scale

Weather Balloons and Festivals

Weather balloons are essential for the information provided to National Weather Service. They measure temperature, pressure, and humidity. The balloons are launched in over 900 locations around the world twice daily. They are made from latex or synthetic rubber. The public is asked to return them if found as they can be reused.

The largest Hot Air Balloon Festival is held every year in Albuquerque, N. Mexico, with hundreds of balloons taking flight. It is such a colorful sight for balloon enthusiasts.

Weather Balloon
Weather Balloon
Weather Ballon
Weather Ballon

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)