Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Fact about Hot Air Balloons.

Hot Air Balloons, Blue, Sky, Sunshine  One morning, many years ago when I lived in New Mexico, I was fortunate enough to crest a hill, just in time to see numerous hot air balloons silently gliding across the sky.  I will never forget the breath taking site.

I can assure you, I will never be up in one.  I love the videos of the view but I am extremely scared of heights.  I can't even step on a chair without trembling.

I have no idea why I'm scared of heights, I just am.  On the other hand, I love watching balloons from the ground and yes I wish I had the guts to take a ride.  Maybe someday, I'll get the guts up to do it.

Did you know, hot air balloons have been around since the mid 1700's when a couple of men sewed cotton cloth to paper to create the balloon part.  The first few went up above 1000 feet but the first manned hot air balloon flight carrying a duck, a sheep and a rooster occurred in 1783 in front of the Kind of France. The first human flight happened just the same year. The first transatlantic flight took place only 2 years later.

Fun facts about hot air balloons:

1.  Louis XVI wanted to use condemned criminals as the first pilots because if they died, he considered it no big deal.  He was talked out of it.  A scientist and aristocrat managed to fly for 20 minutes in the first human flight in 1873.

2.  The scientist decided to be the first man to fly across the English Channel using a new type of balloon filled with a mixture of half helium, half hot air. Unfortunately, 30 minutes into the flight, the balloon exploded making him the first fatality.

3. Champagne after flights came about because balloons landed in their fields scaring the livestock or smashing crops.  The champagne helped sooth tempers. 

4. In 1808, two love sick suitors held a balloon duel over Paris rather than the standard duel at 20 paces.  The balloons took off and at the appropriate height.  Each man fired a blunderbuss.  One man died when his balloon floundered and fell to the ground while the other landed safely.  It is assumed the survivor won the hand of the lady.

5.  In 1794, during the French Revolution, a balloon spend 9 hours in the air with an observer who wrote down his views of the battle and regularly dropped his observations to the ground.  No one knows if the information helped the French win the Battle.

6. During the early years of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of a balloon corps used to observe enemy movements up to 15 miles away. The Confederates made their own balloon out of dress silk but it was captured by the Union. The Union quit using balloons because they were easy to shoot down due to their size.

7. From 1800 to 1900, circuses regularly featured smoke balloons which were balloons without a basket.  A daredevil with a parachute attached himself to the balloon, the balloon was held over a hot fire until it was filled with hot air or smoke and released to rise up into the atmosphere.  When the balloon reached its highest point, the daredevil released himself from the balloon, opened the parachute and floated down to the amazement of the audience.

8. In 2010, an entrepreneur started a service with glass bottom baskets so people could see directly below its location. Its private but there is some talk of allowing the public to use it again.

9. Hot air balloons have no way to steer so they go where ever the wind sends them.  They cannot be used in rain because the hot air can cause the droplets to boil and possibly destroy its fabric.

10.  The longest flight went from Japan to Canada.

I hope someday I get up the guts to ride in one but I don't know if I'll manage it.  I am just scared of heights.  I hope you enjoyed these few facts.  Have a great day.


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