The History of Hot Air Balloons

For many people, riding in a hot air balloon is an experience of a lifetime. After all, it’s a chance to see the world from a new perspective and spend quality time with loved ones. As popular as balloon rides Las Vegas are, however, it’s not a novelty pastime. In fact, hot air ballooning has been enjoyed for many years. Starting with the first flight in the late 1700s, hot air balloons have carried human (and non-human) passengers over familiar landscapes for pleasure and fun.

The first-ever hot air balloon was launched in September, 1783 by a scientist named Pilatre De Rozier. But the first passengers weren’t eager and ambitious humans – they were farm animals! Riding in the inaugural hot air balloon were a team of animals including a duck, a rooster, and several sheep. The first-ever balloon stayed in the air for a mere 15 minutes before sending the poor occupants tumbling to the ground. While not exactly what you’d pay money for today, the first ride gave scientists a solid base for improvement. Just two months after the first semi-successful flight, the first human-occupied balloon ride was launched. The balloon was launched by the two Montgolfier brothers, who launched the balloon from Paris, much to the delight of the attending crowd. This time, the balloon stayed afloat for about 30 minutes before sinking (gracefully) to the ground.

As with many modern technologies, the first balloon ride with humans showed that yes, people could do better. Just two years after the first manned balloon ride, a hot air balloon successfully traversed the English Channel. The balloon was piloted by two men, who were named Jean Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries. The French and British pilot, respectively, landed to a rowdy applause. The duo also made great strides in ballooning history by showing that hot air balloons could travel farther and faster than previously known.

After that success, competition became fierce among balloonists worldwide. Solo balloonists, pairs, and entire teams sought to become “firsts” at a variety of distance events. Riding on the heels of his counterparts’ success, balloonist and scientist Jean Pierre Blanchard was the first in history to fly a balloon across the United States. In 1932, a Swiss balloonist named Auguste Piccard flew to a height of nearly 53,000 FT. Flying to that height put him into the stratosphere, and it made him famous for having the highest-flying hot air balloon in history. About 10 years later, Piccard’s record was broken by a gas-powered hot air balloon that reached an impressive 72,400 FT above sea level, which is about 14 miles! This record was a first for hot air balloons, and it also opened a new door in space exploration and discovery, as astronauts and physicists borrowed the hot air balloon’s capabilities to create better spacecraft.

To this day, balloonists around the world seek to be bigger, better, and bolder than their predecessors. The first cross-Pacific balloon ride was completed in the 1980s. Trans-Atlantic crossings and even global crossings have been recorded in the hot air balloon. While you might not want to cover the world, you can still get a taste of this special pastime via balloon rides Las Vegas!

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