1783 - The Birth of Flight

In September, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier launched the first hot air balloon with 3 passengers on board: a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The balloon stayed in the air for a grand total of 15 minutes over Paris before coming back down to earth with a bump! King Louis XVI is reported to have enjoyed the spectacle.

The two brothers worked for their family’s prestigious paper company, and as a side project they had begun to experiment with paper vessels elevated by heating air. Over the course of a couple of years they had developed a hot air balloon powered by burning straw, manure, and other material in an attached fire pit.

The first manned attempt came in November of the same year, when a French scientist, Pilatre de Rozier, became the first man ever to fly. The balloon was launched from the centre of Paris and flew for a period of 20 minutes.

The balloon was launched from the centre of Paris and flew for a period of 20 minutes

Ten days later Jacques Charles launched the first manned hydrogen balloon, also in Paris. News of the manned balloon flights travelled fast, and astounded the world.