quest for adventure and soaring in the sky has never
been inhibited by any material limitations. Man has
always explored the realms of possibility even in impossible
situations. While the true history of ballooning cannot be traced accurately
due to the paucity of documented evidence it is, however,
believed that thousands of years ago humans attempted
to soar with limited success. What is well recorded
though is the flight of the hot air balloon, constructed
by the Montgolfier brothers in their paper factory.
Their flight in Paris in November 1783, and subsequent
flights in France by other pioneers would certainly
be recorded as the first balloon flights. In the same
period Professor Jacques Charles demonstrated a different
design and used hydrogen instead of hot air in his balloons.
The material for making the balloons ranged from
paper to light fabric or silk. Most designers used open
baskets, which were called gondolas.
Over the years these improved aerostats
were to be used for military operations due to their
advantage of viewing enemy positions from vantage
heights. This also led to improvements in design and
structure. The advantages of hydrogen or helium were
extensively exploited but the easy resources of using
hot air were never dispensed with. Hot air balloons
that also use an envelope of helium or hydrogen are
Today the history of ballooning is
so well documented and published that one only needs
to browse any search engine on the internet and the
flood gates open up.
Jacques Charles demonstration