Montgolfier Brothers Balloon Returns to the Theodore Gildred Rotunda at San Diego Air & Space Museum

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An example of one of history’s iconic flying machines representing an important advance in the annals of aviation returned to the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park as part of the Museum’s commitment to hosting and displaying its world-class collections.

The Montgolfier Brothers Balloon returned to the Theodore Gildred Rotunda last Month. Brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier were born in France and were inventors of the hot air balloon. They used a fire to blow hot air into a silk bag attached to a basket. The hot air then rose and allowed the balloon to be lighter than air. The first demonstrated flight of this balloon took place on June 4, 1783 in the brothers’ birthplace of Annonay, France. At the time, the brothers believed they had discovered a new gas (they called it Montgolfier gas) that was lighter than air and caused the inflated balloons to rise. In fact, the gas was air, which became more buoyant as it was heated.

In September 1783, the first passengers in the colorful Montgolfier balloon were a sheep, a rooster, and a duck. The balloon climbed to a height of about 6,000 feet and traveled more than one mile. Then, in Paris, on November 21, 1783, two men flew for the first time in the lighter-than-air craft. They were Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d-Arlandes. The flight last 25 minutes and covered a little more than five miles. The Montgolfier brothers had accomplished what no one before could; many considered this the first flight of humans.

The balloon on display in the Museum is quarter-scale model of an early Montgolfier balloon.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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