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EDITIONS
Sunday, 6 December, 1998, 15:35 GMT
Balloons make history
Balloonists first sailed aloft more than 200 years ago. Modern balloons can be very hi-tech but the pioneers of the past had to be resourceful.

The first recorded fuel used in 1782 is reported to have been old boots and bad meat. The stink this "fuel" gave off was, at the time, thought to increase the levity of the balloon.

Chronology

  • 1782 - The first hot-air balloon experiments were by Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier in France. Their balloon of paper lined cloth was 33m in circumference and flew for 10 minutes, covering a distance of 2.5 km. A sheep and a duck were the first balloon passengers.

  • 1783 - The first manned balloon flight was by Pilatre de Rozier in Versailles, France. He died in 1785 attempting to cross the English Channel in a balloon.

  • 1785 - The first balloon to cross the English Channel was piloted by French Balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries.

  • 1793 - The first balloon flight in North America was by Jean-Pierre Blanchard from Philadelphia to Gloucester County, New Jersey.

  • 1900s - Balloons started to be used for military purposes, often serving as bomb launches in World War I.

  • 1903 - The first heavier than air, airplane flight by Orville Wright, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

    army weather balloon
    The army still use weather balloons

  • 1944 - The Japanese prepared 10,000 balloon bombs to float over the United States. They launch 9,000 but only 285 were ever accounted for in continenal USA, Canada, Alaska and Mexico.

  • 1960 - Edward Yost invented a propane burner that changes ballooning from gas power to hot air.

  • 4 May 1961 - Malcolm Prost and Victor Prather set the world record for the highest altitude ever reached in a balloon - 34,668m.

  • 1973 - The first ballooning world championships were held in the United States.

  • 1978 - The first transatlantic balloon flight was by Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman and was from Presque Isle, Maine to Miserey, France.

  • October, 1981 -The first non-stop transcontinental balloon flight was by Fred Gorell and John Shucraft.

  • November, 1981 - The first transpacific balloon flight by Newman, Abruzzo, Aoki and Clark from Nagashima, Japan to Covello, California.

  • September, 1984 - The first solo transatlantic balloon flight by Joseph W. Kittinger from Caribou, Maine to Cairo Montenotte, Italy.

  • December, 1986 - The first nonstop unrefueled global airplane flight by Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager in Voyager from Edwards Air Force Base, California.

  • February, 1995 - The first solo transpacific balloon flight was by Steve Fossett from Seoul, Korea to Mendham, Saskatchawan, Canada.

  • 28 January 1998 - Andy Elson and Bertrand Piccard, in the Breitling Orbiter II set the world record for endurance at nine days and 17 hours - or, to be exact, 233 hours and 55 minutes. But the journey is stopped when they are not allowed to over-fly China.

  • August, 1998 - The first crossing of the South Atlantic and Indian oceans by balloon was made by Steve Fossett while setting world record distance of 22.975km.

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