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Hot Air Balloons

On January 9, 1793, Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, made the first manned balloon flight in the United States. The trip began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with President George Washington and other government officials in attendance. Blanchard, accompanied by his little black dog, landed in New Jersey about 46 minutes after take-off.

Ballooning really began ten years earlier in France. Brothers, Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, owned a paper factory and wondered if smoke might lift a balloon. After a lot of experimentation, they learned that paper and linen created a sturdy balloon and hot air would cause the balloon to lift.

Today’s balloons are made from nylon and other fire resistant material and come in all shapes, colors and designs. Balloons are used for sightseeing, special occasions, festivals and racing.

Did you know?

  • You need to be at least 14 years old to get a license from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a balloon. To carry passengers you’ll have to be at least 16 years old
  • In the Civil War, World War I and World War II, balloons were used to spy on enemy troops
  • American, Steve Fossett, was the first person to balloon around the world by himself. It took about 13 days, 11 hours and 33 minutes to complete the trip



Take Flight With Great Reads

Flying in A Hot Air Balloon
Bellville, Cheryl Walsh
The author describes her experiences with hot air ballooning as passenger and ground-crew member and depicts the sport from flight preparation to dismantling.
Ballooning Adventures
Bledsoe, Glen
Describes the different types of balloons, the history and dangers of ballooning, and some aeronauts' adventures.