Despite the fact that for ages humans had been thinking of making their dream of flying come true based on wings, in the first stage of modern aviation, balloons and not airplanes became a way to satisfy humanity’s desires.
The first free, successful balloon flight took place on November 21, 1783 and the first aeronaut in the world was Frenchman Pilâtre de Rozier, who, accompanied by marquis Francois d’Arlandes, took off in the Montgolfier type balloon from Château de la Muette in Paris and after 25 minutes landed successfully in Bois de Boulogne, covering a straight line distance of 8.900 metres.
The first balloon flight was preceded by hundreds of trials and experiments carried out by two brothers — Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, the owners of a paper factory in Annonay. It was them who came up with the concept to build a paper balloon filled with hot air. According to a story from the period Joseph Montgolfier came up with the concept when he watched as a piece of crinoline dried over a fireplace was lifted by hot air.
In Poland,less than a year after the successful flight in Paris, successful balloon flights were carried out in Kraków. The initiators were academics from Kraków: Jan Śniadecki, Jan Jaśkiewicz, Franciszek Scheidt and Jan Szaster.
On November 12, 1784 in Warsaw, chemist and mineralogist of king Stanisław August Poniatowski — Stanisław Okraszewski lifted into the air a hydrogen-filled balloon. The balloon with a diameter of less than 1 metres, attached to the ground with a rope, ascended to the altitude to 180 metres and floated in the air for about 3 minutes. Later it was moved indoors, to a tall room, where it stayed at the ceiling for almost an hour. The show was watched by king Stanisław August Poniatowski.
Balloon designs evolved and further distance and altitude records were set. Soon, the new sport also claimed the first victims. One of them was Pilatre de Rozier, who was the first person to fly a balloon. He died in a failed attempt to fly over the English Channel and became the first casualty of aviation.
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