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Posted By: Mark Hageman on: 12/06/2004 20:06:31 EDT
Subject: Pre-War Ballooning History

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I've found a quick Search on google of "Ballooning History" is quite interesting..(inspired by to-nights Discovery channel "History of Flight-First to Fly")

There is a story that Joseph Montgolfier was musing one day on the problem of how the French Army could possibly storm the British-held Rock of Gibraltar, which was impregnable by land and sea. He was seated in front of the fireplace where his wife had hung up her nightgown to dry. At one point the smoke and heat from the fire filled the gown with hot air and it billowed out and lifted up to the ceiling. Joseph suddenly realized that the British Forces might be overcome by attack from the air, and thus his quest to build a hot air balloon, with his brother Jacque's help, began.

In September of 1783 the Montgolfier brothers launched a trial balloon with a sheep, a duck and a rooster on board. While the rooster died from a broken neck on landing, the other animals survived, proving that it was possible to breathe up there in the sky. So plans were made to launch the first manned hot air balloon in the presence of the King of France.

On November 21, 1783, Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d' Arlandes flew for 20 minutes plus, reaching a height of 3000 feet and a distance of about 8 km before landing. Shortly thereafter, on December 1, 1783, Professor Jacques Charles flew in his hydrogen gas filled balloon, proving that the unreliable hot air balloon was not the only mode of transport.

In 1785, de Rozier thought to experiment with a hybrid of the two types of balloon. Since each type had its advantages, would not a combination of the two be even better? But the balloon caught fire and exploded half an hour after takeoff, and de Rozier fell to his death. In the late 1970's, however, Don Cameron of the United Kingdom decided to try flying this "roziere" type balloon again, only using non-flammable helium, and in 1978 almost made it across the Atlantic in such a balloon, the "Zanussi," proving that roziere balloons were not only possible, but practical. As a result most of the more recent round-the-world balloon attempts are using this roziere technology.

Roziere incidently was the first to fly successfully, as well as the first to die in a balloon.

The first manned flight in the United Kingdom was made on 14 September 1784 by Vincent Lunardi, an employee of the Italian Embassy in London. Launching from the Royal Artillery Grounds in front of a large crowd which included the Prince of Wales, he soon became the toast of London, and proceeded to launch many more times in the UK and Europe.

The first manned flight in the United States was made on 9 January 1793 by Frenchman Jean Pierre-Francois lanchard from near what is now Independence Square in downtown Philadelphia in the presence of President George Washington to what is now Deptford, New Jersey.

American John Wise was active in American ballooning in the first half of the 19th century, and even attempted to fly across the Atlantic but was unsuccessfull.

Then, as we know, during the American Civil War, both the Union and the Confederate Armies made extensive use of tethered balloons for reconnaissance purposes.

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