The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes in a hot air balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.
Festivals and competitions have spawned a wide array of contraptions from inventive forms of advertising to some of the most bizarre and crazy designs in the form of hot dogs, funky animals, weird monsters, ‘fearsome’ dragons, and even space shuttles.
Modern hot air ballons, with an onboard heat source, were pioneered by Ed Yost, beginning in the 1950s; his work resulted in his first successful flight, on October 22, 1960
The first modern-day hot air balloon to be built in the United Kingdom (UK) was the Bristol Belle in 1967. Today, hot air balloons are used primarily for recreation, and there are some 7,500 hot air balloons operating in the United States.
Hot air balloons are able to fly to extremely high altitudes. On November 26, 2005, Vijaypat Singhania set the world altitude record for highest hot air balloon flight, reaching 21,027 meters (68,986 feet). He took off from downtown Bombay, India, and landed 240 kilometers (149 miles) south in Panchale.
On January 15, 1991, the Virgin Pacific Flyer balloon completed the longest flight in a hot air balloon when Per Lindstrand (born in Sweden, but resident in the UK) and Richard Branson of the UK flew 7,671.91 km (4,767.10 mi) from Japan to Northern Canada. With a volume of 74 thousand cubic meters (2.6 million cubic feet), the balloon envelope was the largest ever built for a hot air craft. Designed to fly in the trans-oceanic jet streams the Pacific Flyer recorded the highest ground speed for a manned balloon at 245 mph (394 km/h).
The first manned free flight with human passengers was made by the physics professor Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes, a major in the infantry, on November 21 1783, in Paris, France, in a hot air balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.
King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but de Rozier and Marquis Francois d’Arlandes successfully petitioned for the honor.
The longest duration hot air balloon flight ever made is 50 hours and 38 minutes made by Michio Kanda and Hirosuke Tekezawa of Japan on January 2, 1997.