By Ms. Foran Mr. Taylor ’s Technology Class ACE April 24, 1981
Hot air balloons are the oldest SUCCESSFUL human-carrying flight technology. They have 2 parts: the bag or envelope and the gondola or wicker basket. They also need a source of heat. The heated air inside the envelope makes the balloon buoyant, which makes it rise. It can fly to extremely high altitudes.
Parts of a hot air balloon
As early as 200 A.D., the Chinese used small hot air balloons to pass visual signals between military units.
Two French brothers, Jacques-Etienne, aged 38, and Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, aged 43, developed the first hot air balloon. They were papermakers who were born in Annonay, France.
In June, 1783, the Montgolfier brothers launched their hot air balloon. It was a paper lined linen balloon, filled with hot smoke from a straw fire. It rose 6,000 feet. This balloon did not carry any passengers. In Sept, 1783, King Louis XVI witnessed the first balloon with passengers – a duck, a rooster and a sheep.
The Montgolfier brothers noticed that wood chips float over a fire and they realized that heated air collected inside a lightweight paper or fabric bag would cause the bag to rise. This led to their experimentation of capturing heated air in a balloon
Balloons were used during wartime for military observation during the Civil War. They were also used to carry mail out of Paris, over German lines during the Franco-Prussian War.