History

The History of Hot Air Ballooning

1300’s/ 13th Century:

  • German philosopher Albertus Magnus argues the theory of relative weights
  • 200 years later, Albertus and Venetian inventor, Giovanni de Fontana conceived an object made from thick cloth and rings of wood. A man could sit inside this object, and held a burning brand made of pitch or tallow that produced large amounts of smoke. His theory: because of the fire, the air enclosed within the pyramid would be made lighter and move upwards

1700’s

  • August 8, 1709: Bartholomeu de Gusmao made the first successful ascension in a hot air balloon called, Passarola
  • 17741786: Brothers Joseph & Etienne Montgolfier (who built the first hot air balloon) experimented on various types of air. They discovered the new age water- gas (hydrogen gas)
  • 1782: Joseph Montgolfier built a hot air balloon alone, filled with newly discovered hydrogen gas (one- fourteenth the weight of atmospheric air)
  • 5 June1783: A hot air balloon was launched (with no one in it) in the Annonay public square. It was 33m in circumference and needed 8 men to hold it down. It rose to 1800m and landed 3km away
  • 27 August: Prof. Jacques Charles ascended a hydrogen filled hot air balloon which flew for 45 minutes and landed 25km away.
  • 19 September: The Montgolfiers released a cloth and paper hot air balloon in Versailes. It was 13m in diameter. King Louis XVI refused to let any man in the balloon for safety reasons. However a sheep, a rooster and a duck became the first hot air balloon passengers. This time the hot air balloon flew 550m and descended after 8 minutes, 3km away. The rooster had been sat on by the sheep!
  • 15 October: The first man ascended. The hot air balloon as tied to 26m long rope. It lasted 4.5 minutes.
  • 21 November: The first free flight that included passengers. During the flight the balloon caught alight but was extinguished. The flight lasted 25 minutes and covered 8km.
  • 1 December: From Tuilieries in Paris, Prof. Charles and Marie- Noel Robert flew in a hydrogen filled hot air balloon for an hour before it came down in Nesle.
  • 1785- The English Channel had been crossed using a hot air balloon.
  • 1794- The French Military established a balloon corps, who acted as aerial observers.

1800’s

  • 1861-5: During the Civil War the Union Army used hot air balloons
  • 1870-1: During the Franco- Prussion War, a number of flights were undertaken by the French.
  • End of January 1871: 66 hot air balloons had been flown carrying people, dogs, mail and pigeons.
  • 1885: The first manned hot air balloon flight took place in South Africa.

1900’s

  • 1932: Swiss physicist Auguste Picard flew to 16 000m in an enclosed gondola beneath a balloon
  • 1960: US aeronauts more than doubled this figure
  • 1960: A hot air balloon set the record at 102 000 feet when Captain Joe Kittinger parachute jumped and broke the sound barrier with his body.
  • 4 May 1961: Commander Malcom d Ross reached 34 668m.
  • 1978: Bill Gunsten released his book, “Aviation, The Story of Flight”
  • 1970: Erik Norgaard released his book, “The Book of Balloons”
  • 1978: Atlantic crossing was achieved using The Double Eagle II (Helium balloon). Manned by Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman, a new record was set and was highlighted as the longest balloon flight at 137 hours.
  • November1981: The first Pacific crossing achieved.
  • 1984: Captain Joe Kittenger sets a new record for the first solo transatlantic hot air balloon flight. He covered 3535 miles.
  • 1987: Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand flew a helium/ gas filled balloon across the Atlantic (2900 miles in 33 hours).
  • 1988: Per Lindstrand set a record as the highest solo flight ever recorded, at 65 000 feet.
  • 1991: Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand flew across the Pacific travelling 6700 miles in 47 hours from Japan to Canada. They reached speeds of up to 245 mph.
  • 1999: The first around the world hot air balloon flight was completed by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones. They launched from Switzerland and landed in Africa. It took 19 days, 21.55 hours.

2005

  • 26 November 2005: An Indian textile Millionaire, Mr. Singhania (67 years old) broke the altitude record in a 44 ton hot air balloon. He reached 69 852 feet and flew 150 miles, landing in Panchale (info provided by Aero- News Network)

Today

Air to Air Africa keeps the oldest form of flight known to man, alive. Enjoying the landscapes below and a glass of sparkling wine upon descent, we strive to offer the very best hot air ballooning experience to each and every guest.