November 21, 1783 - Hot Air Balloon Ride over Paris

Nathan Howes
·2 min read
November 21, 1783 - Hot Air Balloon Ride over Paris
November 21, 1783 - Hot Air Balloon Ride over Paris
1783 Hot Air Balloon Paris
1783 Hot Air Balloon Paris

Photo: 2001 National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

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While humanity has always been fascinated with the ability to fly, it wasn't until the 1780s that human flight became a reality. According to a hazy record, the German architect Carl Friedrich Meerwein succeeded in lifting off the ground in an ornithopter in 1781.

On June 4, 1783, French paper-making brothers, Jacques-Étienne and Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, inventors of the world’s first successful hot-air balloons, gave the first public demonstration of an unmanned balloon heated by burning straw and wool rose 3,000 feet into the air before settling to the ground nearly two miles (3.21 km) away.

In their test of a hot-air balloon, the Montgolfiers were preceded by Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão, a Brazilian priest who launched a small hot-air balloon in the palace of the king of Portugal in 1709. The Montgolfiers were unaware of Lourenço’s work, however, and quickly surpassed it.

Eiffel TowerPexels/Pixabay
Eiffel TowerPexels/Pixabay

On Nov. 21, 1783, French physician Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier and François Laurent, the marquis d’ Arlandes, made the first untethered hot-air balloon flight, flying 5.5 miles (8.85 km) over Paris in about 25 minutes. Photo: Pixels/Pixabay.

Then, on Nov. 21, 1783, French physician Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier and François Laurent, the marquis d’ Arlandes, made the first untethered hot-air balloon flight before a large expectant crowd in Paris.

Pilátre and d’Arlandes, an aristocrat, rose up from the grounds of royal Cháteau La Muette in the Bois de Boulogne and flew approximately five miles (8.85 km). Humanity had at last conquered the sky. Their cloth balloon was crafted by the Montgolfier brothers.

On today's podcast, Chris Mei goes back in time to talk about desire of humanity to travel in the air, retracing the steps of what it took before the first hot-air balloon flight happened and how the invention revolutionized air travel.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.