21st November 1783: First Hot Air Balloon Flight Untethered and Manned

It was all those years ago on the 21st of November in the year 1783 in Paris, that the first hot air balloon, that was untethered and manned hit our skies.  This historical flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes. The balloon was actually created on December 14 1782 by by the Montgolfier brothers.
Model of the Montgolfier brothers balloon in t...
A model of the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon at the London Science Museum

image via Wikipedia (Click for larger view)

The heated air inside the envelope (the balloon) makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope.  Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air.

Technical illustration shows early balloon des...
Technical illustration from 1818 showing early balloon designs
image via Wikipedia (Click for larger view)

 In today’s sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex. Beginning in the mid-1970s, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as hot dogs, rocket ships, and the shapes of commercial products, though the traditional shape remains popular.
References :- Wikipedia

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18 Responses to 21st November 1783: First Hot Air Balloon Flight Untethered and Manned

  1. I would have never associated the word “envelope” with a hot air balloon. A new learning for me today — thank you!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Laurie,
      Yes it is rather a strange word for a balloon, I don’t know how the word envelope originally started or why the balloons was originally called that. Hopefully someone else may know those answers. 🙂

    • Denis MacDonald says:

      The word envelope means wrapper, covering, (lit. or fig) apart from the obvious, it also means gas container of balloon or airship; outer vessel of vavuum-tube etc.
      Ref Oxford Conciss Dictionary

  2. I’m in awe of anyone who is daring enough to be the first at something. Hot Air Ballooning would seem to me to a scary proposition being the first. I have to presume they were more worried about coming back down than lift-off.
    And look at how gorgeous the artwork is on the first model. Someone took an incredible amount of time to paint something that could have (a) exploded or (b) gone off into outer space.
    I’m happy to keep my feet on the ground.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi EOSR,
      I agree it would of been very scary especially as no one had ever done it before.
      The balloon is very ornate, it would of really looked like something way up in the sky back in 1783. 🙂

  3. malc50 says:

    Thanks Mags. You learn something new every day – I always thought that the Montgolfier brothers were the first hot-air balloonists. I didn’t realise they only made the first hot-air balloon, but some others flew it.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Mal,
      That may be because we did learn about the Montgolfier brothers and their achievements, so it is a conclusion that we would automatically come to. 🙂

  4. souldipper says:

    Know what Mags? I think you were in aeronautics in a past life. You have quite a thing about anything airborne… Either that or it’s just your beautifully curious mind! 🙂

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi souldipper,
      Oh I am sure I wasn’t anyone important in a past life, far from it. 😀
      But I have always been very curious, always reading, wanting to know more, especially about Ancient History, but also History in general, has always fascinated me from a very young age. 🙂

  5. I knew a Madame de Montgolfier in France. She was married to one of the descendants of the balloon Montgolfiers. These balloons are known as “montgolfieres” (with a ‘grave’ accent on the first ‘e’) in France. I don’t suppose that this interests anyone, but it has given me a rare occasion to name-drop, so thank you Mags.

  6. travelrat says:

    I have yet to fly in a hot-air balloon, although I’ve flown in fixed balloons (one in Bournemouth, a couple of times with the RAF … we used them up until the early 90s for parachute training). Although the hot air balloon is on my bucket list, the dirigible airship is way above it.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi travelrat,
      I haven’t gone up in a hot air balloon either, I have had plenty of chances, just couldn’t bring myself to go. 🙂
      Hubby had a fantastic flight in a hot air balloon when we were on holidays in Turkey, he had a flight over Cappadocia, a very magical landscape.

  7. afrankangle says:

    Wonderful tribute post … and look a far the hot air balloon has come. My first apartment associated with my first job was near an amusement part that had a great view toward the park … which happened to launch a hot air balloon each night, along with a biplane show and eventually fireworks. Sure had a great seat for some daily entertainment that never got old. They inflated the balloon inside the part, and it take a very short ride toward my apartment to land on a nearby golf course.

    Meanwhile, Cincinnati OH (my home) has a colorful balloon event every year at this time. This year, it was actually last weekend. The balloons don’t travel, but their color in the dusk and across a small bit of water is beautiful. Enjoy this link to a Cincinnati blogger who recently posted some pics of our Balluminaria … http://travelspirit333.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/balluminaria/

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