The Pack Report

The History and Innovation of Hot-Air Balloons

The History and Innovation of Hot-Air Balloons

When we think of man-made flight, we likely think of airplanes and helicopters. But, before these great inventions were created, hot-air balloons were all the rage. Surprisingly, hot-air balloons were the first contraptions to launch humans into flight. These magnificent inventions climb up the sky slowly and look like giant bubbles floating in the air. Today, hot air balloons are certainly not our primary form of travel; however, it is interesting to look back at their history and understand their importance in aviation.

In 1783, a duck, a rooster, and a sheep were the first living creatures to sail up in a giant balloon. The hot-air balloon was invented by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier. The balloon was powered by hot air and a compartment with a “lighter-than-air” gas (Virginballoonflights). The flight lasted a total of 15 minutes and marked the first successful balloon flight.

Later that year, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier were the first people to fly in a hot-air balloon. The brothers started their flight in Paris and flew 20 minutes away. The flight marked the first manned flight of people.

A few years later, another hallmark of ballooning was accomplished, a flight over the English Channel. The flight was piloted by two gentlemen, Jean Pierre Blanchard and John Jefferies. This flight was the first long-distance flight in history.

The first balloon flight in America happened in 1793 – 89 years before the birth of Duluth Pack. The balloon was piloted again by Jean Pierre Blanchard, the same man who flew across the English Channel. President George Washington attended the flight and was impressed with the ballooning.

The popularity of hot-air balloons dwindled due to the new and improved use of gas-filled balloons. These balloons relied on lighter gases than air to float rather than the burning of hot air. However, in the 1950s, Ed Yost redesigned the hot air balloon to carry its source of heat. The design used propane which reheats the air within the balloon.

In 1987, the first hot-air balloon crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand piloted the balloon. “They flew a distance of 2,900 miles in a record-breaking time of 33 hours,” an astonishing accomplishment of the time. Per Lindstrand would later break the record for the highest solo hot-air balloon flight at 65,000 feet, over 44 times the Empire State Building’s height (Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta).

Both Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand then flew the Pacific Ocean in 1991.

Whether you find yourself traveling by hot-air balloon, plane, train, bike, or car, make sure you have a Duluth Pack bag to keep your luggage styled and safe. One of our favorite outdoor packs, the Duluth Pack Scout, is great for any travel. Made from rugged canvas and premium leather, this bag looks great and holds up over time. Our Classic Carry-On was designed for cross-country travel, offering plenty of room for storage and keeps your essentials organized. Lastly, the Grab-N-Go is a small, lightweight, and compact bag built to carry your small personal items. No matter the bag you choose, Duluth Pack has got you covered no matter the destination or form of transportation.

Happy adventuring, friends!

We found this information on Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and Virgin Balloon Flights.

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