January 21, 2008
The First Balloon Flight
The Montgolfier brothers, who owned a paper factory in France in the 1700s, became intrigued by a piece of paper that flew up a chimney under a roaring hearth one day. They began to experiment by filling a small silk bag with smoke and were thrilled as it floated to the ceiling. The brothers wanted to make the first manned flight but they promised their father that they would never risk their lives by going up in a balloon. The first hot air balloon flight took place on September 18, 1783 at Versailles with a duck, a sheep and a rooster in the basket. The flight, which was witnessed by King Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin, lasted 8 minutes. The animals were unharmed.