On this day, 21 Novembre 1783, the Montgolfier brothers, Jacques and Joseph, oversaw the first successful untethered flight in a hot air balloon by a human.
The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph Michel Montgolfier (26 août 1740 - 26 juin 1810
) and Jacques Étienne Montgolfier (6 janvier 1745 - 2 août 1799
), were inventors of the montgolfiére
, or hot air balloon.
The brothers were the sons of a paper manufacturer at Annonay, south of Lyon. When playing with inverted paper bags over open fire they found that the bags rose to the ceiling. This led them to experiment further with larger bags made of other materials. During 1782 they tested indoors with silk and linen.
On 14 Decembre 1782 they succeeded in an outdoor launch of an 18 metre silk bag, which reached an altitude of 250 metres. On le 5 juin 1783
, as a first public demonstration, they sent up at Annonay a 900 metre linen bag inflated with hot air. Its flight covered 2 kilometres, lasted 10 minutes, and had an estimated altitude of 1600 - 2000 metres.
The subsequent test sent up the first living beings in a basket attached to the balloon: a sheep, a duck and a cockerel, to ascertain the effects of the air at higher altitude. This was performed at Versailles, before Louis XVI of France, to gain his permission for a trial human flight.
An ascent in a fixed balloon took place around le 15 octobre
to an altitude of 26 metres. On le 21 novembre 1783
, the first free flight by humans was made by Pilétre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes, who flew aloft for 25 minutes about 100 metres above Paris for a distance of nine kilometres.
The ascensions made a sensation. Numerous engravings commemorated the events. Chairs were designed with balloon backs, and mantel clocks were produced in enamel and gilt-bronze replicas set with a dial in the balloon.
Only one of the brothers (which one is unknown) ever flew in a balloon himself, and then only once.
In 1766, the British scientist Henry Cavendish had discovered hydrogen gas, by adding sulphuric acid to iron, tin, zinc shavings, and hot air balloons were superseded by hydrogen gas balloons and did not return until the 1960s, when Raven Industries improved the safety of the classic Montgolfier design by using ripstop nylon for the envelope and propane gas as the burner fuel.
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