Category Archives: History

The conquest of the skies – balloon history from 1870

The First Aerial Voyage

The First Aerial Voyage

“The title of our introduction to aeronautics may appear ambitious to astronomers, and to those who know that the infinite space we call the heavens is for ever inaccessible to travellers from the earth; but it was not so considered by those who witnessed the ardent enthusiasm evoked at the ascension of the first balloon. No discovery, in the whole range of history, has elicited an equal degree of applause and admiration—never has the genius of man won a triumph which at first blush seemed more glorious. The mathematical and physical sciences had in aeronautics achieved apparently their greatest honours, and inaugurated a new era in the progress of knowledge. After having subjected the earth to their power; after having made the waves of the sea stoop in submission under the keels of their ships; after having caught the lightning of heaven and made it subservient to the ordinary purposes of life, the genius of man undertook to conquer the regions of the air. Imagination, intoxicated with past successes, could descry no limit to human power; the gates of the infinite seemed to be swinging back before man’s advancing step, and the last was believed to be the greatest of his achievements.

Balloon of the Marquis D'Arlandes

Balloon of the Marquis D’Arlandes

In order to comprehend the frenzy of the enthusiasm which the first aeronautic triumphs called forth, it is necessary to recall the appearance of Montgolfier at Versailles, on the 19th of September, 1783, before Louis XVI, or of the earliest aeronauts at the Tuileries. Paris hailed the first of these men with the greatest acclaim, “and then, as now,” says a French writer, “the voice of Paris gave the cue to France, and France to the world!” Nobles and artisans, scientific men and badauds, great and small, were moved with one universal impulse. In the streets the praises of the balloon were sung; in the libraries models of it abounded; and in the salons the one universal topic was the great “machine.” In anticipation, the poet delighted himself with bird’s-eye views of the scenery of strange countries; the prisoner mused on what might be a new way of escape; the physicist visited the laboratory in which the lightning and the meteors were manufactured; the geometrician beheld the plans of cities and the outlines of kingdoms; the general discovered the position of the enemy or rained shells on the besieged town; the police beheld a new mode in which to carry on the secret service; Hope heralded a new conquest from the domain of nature, and the historian registered a new chapter in the annals of human knowledge.”

The Destruction of Charles's Balloon

The Destruction of Charles’s Balloon

The full book here: WONDERFUL BALLOON ASCENTS or, the Conquest of the Skies A History of Balloons and Balloon Voyages – By F. Marion 1870.

First manned flight was 230 years ago

First manned flight was 230 years ago by hot air balloonThe brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier developed a hot air balloon in Annonay, Ardeche, France, and demonstrated it publicly on September 19, 1783 with an unmanned flight lasting 10 minutes. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first balloon flight with humans aboard – a tethered flight – performed on or around October 15, 1783 by Etienne Montgolfier who made at least one tethered flight from the yard of the Reveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.First manned flight was 230 years ago by hot air balloon Later that same day, Pilatre de Rozier became the second human to ascend into the air, to an altitude of 80 ft (24 m) which was the length of the tether. The first free flight with human passengers occurred a few weeks later, on November 21, 1783. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but de Rozier, along with Marquis François d’Arlandes, petitioned successfully for the honor.

Pilatre de Rozier, the first man in the air

The first airmail flight was 154 year ago by hot air balloon

Montgolfier balloonAugust 17, 1859 John Wise flew from Lafayette, Indiana, to Crawfordsville, Indiana, and carried 123 letters and 23 circulars on board that had been collected by the postmaster Thomas Wood and endorsed “PREPAID” but only one of these historic postal covers was discovered in 1957.

Historically, balloons were used to transport mail from Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-72. Sixty-five unguided mail balloons were released in besieged Paris to communicate with the world beyond the besieging forces, of which only two went missing.

Graf Zeppelin returns to New York after world tour 1929 – video

LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin returns to New York after world tour 1929After an exhausting world tour over Berlin and Japan the airship returns via the west coast to New York where it received a big welcome and ticker parade.

From 1928 to 1932 the airship was used primarily for experimental and demonstration purposes to prepare the way for eventual regular commercial transatlantic passenger service. After making six domestic shake-down flights, the airship made its first long distance journey in mid October 1928 with a crossing of the Atlantic to the United States. Later demonstration flights included its round-the-world tour in 1929, the Europe-Pan American flight in 1930, a polar expedition in 1931, two round trips to the Middle East, and a variety of other flights around Europe. In 1932, however, the Graf began five years of providing regularly scheduled passenger, mail, and freight service between Germany and South America (Brazil). These commercial operations were the airship’s principal function during this period until it was abruptly withdrawn from active service on the day after the loss of theHindenburg in May 1937 after having made a total of 64 trips to Brazil. During its return trip to Germany on its last South American flight for 1933 the Graf also stopped in Miami (NAS Miami at Opa Locka), Akron (Goodyear-Zeppelin Company Airdock), and the “Century of Progress” world’s fair in Chicago.

The first manned flight was on 21th November 1783

Mongolfier balloon first mannd flightWith the successful demonstration at Versailles, and again in collaboration with Réveillon, Étienne started construction of a 60,000-cubic-foot (1,700 m3) balloon for the purpose of making flights with humans. The balloon was about seventy-five feet tall and about fifty feet in diameter. It had rich decorative touches supplied by Réveillon. The color scheme was gold figures on a deep blue background. Fleur-de-lis, signs of the zodiac, and suns with Louis XVI’s face in the center interlaced with the royal monogram in the central section graced the majestic machine. Red and blue drapery and golden eagles were at the base of the balloon. It is fitting that Étienne Montgolfier was the first human to lift off the earth, making at least one tethered flight from the yard of the Réveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. It was most likely on October 15, 1783. A little while later on that same day, Pilâtre de Rozier became the second to ascend into the air, to an altitude of 80 feet (24 m), which was the length of the tether.

Pilatre de RozierOn 21th November 1783, the first free flight by humans was made by Pilâtre, together with an army officer, the marquis d’Arlandes. The flight began from the grounds of the Château de la Muette (close to the Bois de Boulogne (park)) in the western outskirts of Paris. They flew aloft about 3,000 feet (910 m) above Paris for a distance of nine kilometres. After 25 minutes, the machine landed between the windmills, outside the city ramparts, on the Butte-aux-Cailles. Enough fuel remained on board at the end of the flight to have allowed the balloon to fly four to five times as far. However, burning embers from the fire were scorching the balloon fabric and had to be daubed out with sponges. As it appeared it could destroy the balloon, Pilâtre took off his coat to stop the fire.

Today 228 years ago the first manned balloonflight

The Montgolfier's Balloons The brothers, Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier, were inventors of the first hot air balloon. They used the smoke from a fire to blow hot air into a silk bag. The silk bag was attached to a basket. The hot air then rose and allowed the balloon to be lighter-than-air.

In 1783, the first passengers in the colorful balloon were a sheep, rooster and duck. It climbed to a height of about 6,000 feet and traveled more than 1 mile.

After this first success, the brothers began to send men up in balloons. The first manned flight was on November 21, 1783, the passengers were Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and  François Laurent d’Arlandes.

Today 228 years ago the first manned balloonflight

258th birthday of Jean-Pierre Blanchard who made the first balloon flight over the English Channel

Jean Pierre Blanchard

Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753 – 1809)

Blanchard made his first successful balloon flight in Paris on 2 March 1784, in a hydrogen gas balloon launched from the Champ de Mars.

Blanchard moved to London in August 1784, where he took part in a flight on 16 October 1784 with John Sheldon (anatomist), just a few weeks after the first flight in Britain (and the first outside France), when Italian Vincenzo Lunardi flew from Moorfields to Ware on 15 September 1784. Blanchard’s propulsion mechanisms – flapping wings and a windmill – again proved ineffective, but the balloon flew some 115 km from the military academy in Chelsea, landing in Sunbury and then taking off again to end in Romsey. Blanchard took a second flight on 30 November 1784, taking off with an American, Dr John Jeffries, from Rhedarium Garden west of Grosvenor Square in London to Ingress in Kent.

the first balloon flight over the English ChannelA third flight, again with Jeffries, was the first flight over the English Channel, taking about 2½ hours to travel from England to France on 7 January 1785, flying from Dover Castle to Guînes. Blanchard was awarded a substantial pension by Louis XVI.

Blanchard toured Europe, demonstrating his balloons. Blanchard holds the record of first balloon flights in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. Among the events that included demonstrations of his abilities as a balloonist was the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II as king of Bohemia in Prague in September 1791.

Following the invention of the modern parachute in 1783 by Sébastien Lenormand in France, in 1785 Jean-Pierre Blanchard demonstrated it as a means of safely disembarking from a hot air balloon. While Blanchard’s first parachute demonstrations were conducted with a dog as the passenger, he later had the opportunity to try it himself when in 1793 his hot air balloon ruptured and he used a parachute to escape. Subsequent development of the parachute focused on it becoming more compact. While the early parachutes were made of linen stretched over a wooden frame, in the late 1790s, Blanchard began making parachutes from folded silk, taking advantage of silk’s strength and light weight.

On 10 January 1793, Blanchard conducted the first balloon flight in North America, ascending from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and landing in Deptford, Gloucester County, New Jersey. One of the flight’s witnesses that day was President George Washington, and the future presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Blanchard left the United States in 1797.

He married Marie Madeleine-Sophie Armant (better known as Sophie Blanchard) in 1804. In 1809, Blanchard had a heart attack while in his balloon at the Hague. He fell from his balloon and died some weeks later from his severe injuries

First public demonstrations of the hot air balloon

Hot air balloon first public demonstration in Annonay, 1783-06-04228 years ago, the Montgolfier brothers – Joseph-Michel Montgolfier (26 August 1740 – 26 June 1810) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (6 January 1745 – 2 August 1799) – decided to make a public demonstration of a balloon in order to establish their claim to its invention. They constructed a globe-shaped balloon of sackcloth with three thin layers of paper inside. The envelope could contain nearly 790 m³ (28,000 cubic feet) of air and weighed 225 kg (500 lb). It was constructed of four pieces (the dome and three lateral bands) and held together by 1,800 buttons. A reinforcing fish net of cord covered the outside of the envelope.

On 4 June 1783, they flew this craft as their first public demonstration at Annonay in front of a group of dignitaries from the Etats particulars. Its flight covered 2 km (1.2 mi), lasted 10 minutes, and had an estimated altitude of 1,600-2,000 m (5,200-6,600 ft).