Think about being one of the first to do it. If the balloon went up, would it come down? Where would it land? You wouldn’t want to launch one near the ocean. Would the balloon tear? At this point they didn’t even know there were different atmospheres with different temperatures. The first people to go up over 20,000 feet about froze to death and found out that their faculties were diminished with reduced oxygen. Another lesson learned. Meteorology made huge advancements when scientists began running tests using the balloons. These people were our first aviators and they were as brave as any of the pioneers in the field.
The idea of using hydrogen to make a balloon rise into the sky occurred in the 1700's. Two brothers from France came up with the idea and in 1783, King Louis XVI commissioned the first flight with the idea of using criminals to go up but a couple of nobles petitioned to be the first. They rose around 100 feet and travelled around five miles. This might not seem like much but think about accomplishing this back in the 1700's; it was a mind-blowing experience for those who took the risk.
The year 1785 in ballooning was very significant in that a balloon made it across the English Channel but unfortunately another crashed into a town and burned down around 100 homes. It was a public relations disaster for the new form of flight and was of course on record as being the first aviation disaster.
France was the first country to use an air balloon in battle, as they used it to observe troop movements during the French Revolutionary War. Britain flooded the skies with unmanned balloons to obstruct German fighter pilots. Unfortunately, they didn’t work too well at The Battle of Britain as German’s bombers unleashed a fury.
The record height an air balloon has reached occurred in 2005 by a man from India. With special life-saving equipment, he reached an altitude of 69,850 feet which is around twice as high as a passenger jet travels. Now there are huge balloon festivals around the country that are filled with beautiful colors. It’s amazing how close some of them fly to each other but the balloons tend to bump off each other so the baskets and ropes don’t typically become entwined. I’ve got to admit, when I was younger, I’d have no problem going up, but now it doesn’t seem like such a fun idea. 😊