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Hot Air Balloons: A Brief History

Hot air ballooning has been around for well over 100 years, but it has not always been available for everybody to enjoy. Nowadays, it is a popular activity and enjoyed by thousands of people all over the world. But it hasn't always been so popular or easy to take part. Read on for a small history on how hot air balloon flights became popular.

The First Ever Balloon Flight

The first ever-hot air balloon made was nothing like the hot air balloons used today. For starters, it was far smaller - not even enough room for a person to fit inside!

These balloons were more like lanterns and powered by candlelight. Rather than designed to carry passengers, they were more decorative and used during celebrations such as festivals and ceremonies. They were popular as they were easy and cheap to make, but were extremely pretty and delicate to watch. They were also used for military signalling way before phones and satellites were invented!

The First Manned Hot Air Balloon

Many people have always had a fascination with hot air balloons and the physics of creating a machine that flies without an engine. The first manned balloon flight was recorded to have taken flight around the 15th of October 1783. Etienne Montgolfier was the first human to man a balloon flight, ascending into the air above Paris. The balloon was tethered to the ground to stop the balloon from flying too high, but he showed that these balloons can also be made for people.

The physics behind flying a balloon hasn't changed much since the first manned flight, however the style and design of the balloon have changed dramatically.

Military Balloons

Lanterns were used as military signals before satellites, radios and phones had been invented. These were made of similar materials and with the same physics that power balloon flights today. Hot air balloons have been used in wartime since then; even with new technology there has still been a need for them. This is because they are relatively simple and cheap to build but can also be extremely effective. They have been used to shield cities from the enemy as they float just above buildings making it difficult for aeroplanes to fly near.

How Balloons Are Used Today

Hot air balloons have different uses today. Before they were used as signals or celebrations. Whereas now they are used for commercial balloon flights, sight seeing adventures and even as huge advertisements.

There are thousands of ballooning companies across the world that offer balloon trips. There are a variety of packages people can choose from including VIP, which usually includes some special champagne. Or commercial balloon flights, which are most common and give 10 or fewer passengers the chance to see the skies!

Air balloon trips are so popular as they give people a chance to see the skies in a different way. When they were first invented, balloon trips were only for the privileged, but nowadays balloon flights are used for a numerous of reasons, including adventure trips, a way of advertising and also for corporate events.

Graeme Smith is very passionate about hot air ballooning and uses his spare time to write about the many ways to enjoy a balloon flight. For more information visit


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