Some of the Montgolfiers' more successful designs.
The first form of human flight was lighter than air flight. Lighter than air flight means that flight is accomplished by tethering a craft to an object that is lighter than the air surrounding it and floating through the sky. In the sixteenth century two brothers Joseph and Ettienne Montgolfier were watching their fireplace and noticed ashes rising up the chimney. They later came to the conclusion that dirty air rises. They used this idea by creating a large paper balloon with a fire below it to create hot air. In September 19, 1783 the Montgolfier brothers took a sheep, a duck, and a rooster, and placed them in their balloon. These farm animals become the first passengers in a hot air balloon. On November 21,1783 the first recorded manned flight in a hot air balloon took place in Paris. Built from paper and silk by the Montgolfier brothers, this balloon was piloted on a 22 minute flight by two noblemen from the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. From the center of Paris they ascended 500 feet above the roof tops before eventually landing miles away in the vineyards. Local farmers were very suspicious of this fiery dragon descending from the sky. The pilots offered champagne to placate them and to celebrate the first human flight, a tradition carried on to this day.
Click back to return to Leonardo da Vinci and next to continue on to early designs.