Friday, 18 July 2014

A short history of the Hot Air Balloon

Air balloons were one of the first inventions to fly through the air. The history of the hot air balloon goes back further than most people believe. Unmanned hot air balloons can be seen throughout Chinese history. These were Kongming lanterns which were airborne lanterns for military signalling. The first documented air balloon flight took place in Lisbon, Portugal. This hot air balloon was created by Bartolomeu de Gusmão.

The first hydrogen unmanned balloon was flown in 1783. It was invented by Jacques Charles and the Robert Brothers. The balloon was small and could only carry 9 kg. A few months later, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris. In 1785, Jean-Pierre Blanchard flew across the English Channel.  Later the same year he did a return flight from Dover to Calais. Hot air balloons would later become a part of warfare. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, there have been many instances where balloons were used effectively.  This gave rise to an air force being needed by most countries. During World War 2, barrage balloons were inflated over London to obstruct the Luftwaffe air attacks.

The first modern hot air balloon built in the United Kingdom in 1967 was called the Bristol Belle. As the 20th century rolled on, the need for the hot air balloon became obsolete as a mainstream form of transport. It transformed into a novelty attraction as many people embarked on hot balloon air rides across the countryside for relaxation and pleasure. The modern air balloon is far more sophisticated than the original.

British School of Ballooning, the UK’s longest running hot air balloon company provides balloon rides in Sussex, Surrey and throughout the South of England. Ballooning nowadays is safe for everyone. It is actually the safest form of aviation. Pilots have the same testing patterns as regular pilots. People can enjoy the open air and lovely views of the countryside by taking hot air balloon rides. For more information, please visit


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