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Montgolfier, Joseph(-Michel) de

balloon air hot paper

(1740–1810) and ( Jacques-)Étienne de Montgolfier [mõgolfyay] (1745–99) French inventors of the hot air balloon.

These brothers, who both worked in the family paper-making business, became interested in the possibility of balloon flight about 1782. Their earliest paper models were hydrogen-filled, but the gas soon escaped. Their first large model, which reached 25 m, had an envelope of silk taffeta and was lifted by hot air, heated by burning a mix of chopped hay and wool. In 1783 they made a much larger balloon of canvas covered with paper and used it to raise a sheep, a cock and a duck in a wicker cage, and later in the year two friends ascended, with a brazier to maintain the heat. They remained airborne for half an hour, reaching about 100 m and travelling across Paris; this was the first human flight. Étienne never ascended in a balloon, and Joseph only once, under a huge balloon more than 30 m in diameter in which he flew with six friends. Lighter-than-air dirigibles soon began to use hydrogen, and in the 20th-c helium, but hot air balloons have again become popular since the Second World War. Joseph also designed a parachute and tested it with a sheep dropped from a tower in 1784, but afterwards did no more in aeronautics. The ‘ballooning craze’ he had begun spread rapidly to the USA; and the English Channel was crossed in 1785.

Montgomery, Isaiah T.(1847–1924) - Politician, entrepreneur, Chronology [next] [back] Montana, Claude

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