Some unknown and strange hot air balloon facts very few people outside of the ballooning community knows… Let’s get to the fun part straight away!
1. Who invented the first hot air balloons…
First Up, is… Who invented the first hot air balloon? If you have been doing some research surrounding this then you would most probably have come up with the Montgolfier brothers. But it was actually the Chinese who first started experimenting with hot air balloons. “Out of all the interesting facts about the hot air balloon, this might be one of the lesser known ones, even though when you think about it, the connection is quite obvious. The first manned hot air balloon flight took place in the 18th century, but China has been experimenting with hot air technology for more than two thousand years, with the first documented tests performed as early as the 3rd century BCE.The biggest hot air balloon innovator in China was Zhuge Liang, a military strategist and inventor, who adapted the hot air balloon mechanism to send messages to supporting troops in case his army was surroundedThe type of old hot air balloon that the Chinese used was basically an airborne lantern, similar to those that people still like to launch today at weddings and similar occasions. They were in essence small hot air balloons that could be seen from many miles away, making the ancient Chinese hot air balloon a perfect tool for communicating the need for help and allowing to see the approximate location.”
2. Animals were the first hot air balloon passengers
One of the more interesting facts is that people weren’t the first balloonists who flew it.
When brothers Montgolfier were tweaking their hot air balloon design in 18th century France, they started doing test flights to see if it was safe. And after launching successful unmanned flights, they decided that the next step was to launch animals.
So, they put a sheep, a rooster, and a duck into a hot air balloon and set it to the skies. The balloon rose as high as 600 meters, and after traveling for more than 2 miles, landed safely in a field after the fabric became damaged.
The animals were then inspected by a physician, who determined they were alive and well, and so the three animals became pioneers of hot air balloon flight and paved the way for successful human flights of the future.
For their brave efforts, the three animals were hailed as heroes and even got to spend their remaining days in the Menagerie in Versailles.
3. The First Hot Air Balloon Pilot Died in a Crash
In this list, we cover quite a few hot air balloon fun facts, but this one is not as uplifting, even though it’s still no less important.
Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier became the first person ever to take flight in a hot air balloon when he agreed to man the brother Montgolfier balloon in 1783. But although his first flight was a resounding success, he would eventually wind up becoming the first fatality of the hot air balloon as well.
After the initial success, he and another passenger wanted to push the boundaries of hot air balloons of the time by flying across the English Channel.
Unfortunately, something went wrong, and the balloon caught on fire, which sent both Rozier and his colleague falling to their deaths.
4. The Tradition of Drinking Champagne Came About Because of Superstition
One of the more fun facts about balloons comes from the time that they were first invented.
As you probably know, drinking champagne is a very popular tradition when flying a hot air balloon – it’s common to take part in the “balloonists prayer” before a flight and have a toast with a glass of champagne.
But even though it may seem like a traditional celebration of a fun activity, it actually has an interesting story behind it.
Back when brothers Montgolfier were performing test flights of their balloons, local farmers weren’t too happy – they didn’t like the balloons landing in their fields, mainly because they were afraid that the balloons were dragons descending from the skies and posed a danger.
To ease tensions and allow their experiments to continue, the brothers started offering champagne to the farmers in whose land the balloons would land, soothing their anger and allowing them to continue with their work.
5. Hot Air Balloons Played an Integral Role During the Civil War
If you want to learn one of the coolest facts that will impress your Civil War enthusiast friends, here’s one that won’t disappoint.
Even though flying hot air balloons is mostly regarded as a fun recreational activity, they actually played an important role during the Civil War, acting as a vital reconnaissance tool for spotting enemy movements and artillery.
The balloons could rise to thousands of feet and see far in the distance, providing crucial information that could give an upper hand to those that could use them.
The balloonists would provide intel using the telegraph or with the help of special signal flags, and were vital in the Union’s efforts of winning some crucial battles during the war.
6. Glass-Bottom Hot Air Balloons Offer an Even More Thrilling Experience
Out of all the facts about hot air balloons, this might be the one that can be the scariest, especially for those that aren’t too excited about heights.
Even though there are plenty of stunning views in a traditional air balloon basket, today, you can take the experience to a whole new level by taking flight on a hot air balloon with a glass floor.
Although this type of ride is definitely not for everyone, looking under your legs and seeing thousands of feet between you and the ground can be a thrilling experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
7. Hot Air Balloons Can’t Fly in the Rain
Have you ever wondered why hot air balloons only fly on sunny days? Well, one reason is convenience and pleasure for the passengers, but that’s just part of the story.
You see, although balloons are generally very safe and durable, there are restrictions to when they can take flight.
One of these restrictions involves precipitation – during rain, the balloon becomes much harder to control, as the accumulating water on top cools down it down and makes it heavier, which not only burns much more fuel but also makes the balloon less safe.
So, it’s best to plan your hot air balloon flights for days that are sunny and calm – this way, you’ll not only be able to enjoy the best sights, but will also be able to stay dry and safe.
If you want to learn more facts about hot air balloons, there’s no better way to do it than trying it for yourself, so call or Whatsapp us at +27 82 589 3988 and we’ll provide you with an unforgettable experience in the air!
Stay safe people!