Balloon (aircraft)
Overview
 
A balloon is a type of aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 that remains aloft due to its buoyancy
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

. A balloon travels by moving with the wind
Wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

. It is distinct from an airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner.

The "basket" or capsule that is suspended by cables beneath a balloon and carries people, animals, or automatic equipment (including camera
Camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

s and telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

s, and flight-control mechanisms) may also be called the gondola
Gondola
The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited to the conditions of the Venetian Lagoon. For centuries gondolas were the chief means of transportation and most common watercraft within Venice. In modern times the iconic boats still have a role in public transport in...

.
There are three main types of balloon aircraft:
  • Hot air balloon
    Hot air balloon
    The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

    s obtain their buoyancy by heating the air inside the balloon.
Encyclopedia
A balloon is a type of aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 that remains aloft due to its buoyancy
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

. A balloon travels by moving with the wind
Wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

. It is distinct from an airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner.

The "basket" or capsule that is suspended by cables beneath a balloon and carries people, animals, or automatic equipment (including camera
Camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

s and telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

s, and flight-control mechanisms) may also be called the gondola
Gondola
The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited to the conditions of the Venetian Lagoon. For centuries gondolas were the chief means of transportation and most common watercraft within Venice. In modern times the iconic boats still have a role in public transport in...

.

Types

There are three main types of balloon aircraft:
  • Hot air balloon
    Hot air balloon
    The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

    s obtain their buoyancy by heating the air inside the balloon. They are the most common type of balloon aircraft. "Hot air balloon" is sometimes used incorrectly to denote any balloon that carries people.
  • Gas balloon
    Gas balloon
    A gas balloon is any balloon that stays aloft due to being filled with a gas less dense than air or lighter than air . A gas balloon may also be called a Charlière for its inventor, the Frenchman Jacques Charles. Today, familiar gas balloons include large blimps and small rubber party balloons...

    s are inflated with a gas
    Gas
    Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

     of lower molecular weight
    Molecular mass
    The molecular mass of a substance is the mass of one molecule of that substance, in unified atomic mass unit u...

     than the ambient atmosphere
    Earth's atmosphere
    The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

    . Most gas balloons operate with the internal pressure
    Pressure
    Pressure is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure.- Definition :...

     of the gas being the same as the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere
    Atmospheric pressure
    Atmospheric pressure is the force per unit area exerted into a surface by the weight of air above that surface in the atmosphere of Earth . In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the measurement point...

    . There is a type of gas balloon, called a superpressure balloon
    Superpressure balloon
    A superpressure balloon is a style of aerostatic balloon where the volume of the balloon is kept relatively constant in the face of changes in the temperature of the contained lifting gas. This allows the balloon to keep a stable altitude for long periods...

    , that can operate with the lifting gas
    Lifting gas
    Because of the Archimedes' principle, a lifting gas is required for aerostats to create buoyancy. Its density is lower than that of air . Only certain lighter than air gases are suitable as lifting gases.- Hot Air :...

     at pressure that exceeds the pressure of the surrounding air, with the objective of limiting or eliminating the loss of gas from day-time heating. Gas balloons are filled with gases such as:
    • hydrogen
      Hydrogen
      Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

       - not widely used for aircraft since the Hindenburg disaster
      Hindenburg disaster
      The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey...

       because of high flammability (except for some sport balloons as well as nearly all unmanned scientific and weather balloons).
    • helium
      Helium
      Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

       - the gas used today for all airships and most manned balloons.
    • ammonia
      Ammonia
      Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

       - used infrequently due to its caustic qualities and limited lift.
    • coal gas
      Coal gas
      Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made by the destructive distillation of coal containing a variety of calorific gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons together with small quantities of non-calorific gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen...

       - used in the early days of ballooning; it is highly flammable.
    • methane
      Methane
      Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

       - used as a lower cost lifting gas, but offering less lift than helium or hydrogen.
  • Rozière balloon
    Rozière balloon
    The Rozière balloon is a type of hybrid balloon that has separate chambers for a non-heated lifting gas as well as a heated lifting gas...

    s use both heated and unheated lifting gases. The most common modern use of this type of balloon is for long-distance record flights such as the recent circumnavigations.

History

Unmanned hot air balloons are popular in Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 history. Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang was a chancellor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. He is often recognised as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era....

 of the Shu Han
Shu Han
Shu Han was one of the three states competing for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period, after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The state was based on areas around Sichuan, which was then known as Shu...

 kingdom, in the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 era (220-280 AD) used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns (孔明灯).

There is also some speculation, from a demonstration led by British modern hot air balloonist Julian Nott
Julian Nott (balloonist)
Julian Nott is a British balloonist who now lives in Santa Barbara, CA, USA. He is known for his achievements in record-setting exploits. Nott has set 79 World ballooning Records and 96 British aviation records. He is currently actively involved in developing balloons for flights at Solar System...

 in the late 1970s and again in 2003, that hot air balloons could have been used by people of the Nazca culture
Nazca culture
The Nazca culture was the archaeological culture that flourished from 100 to 800 CE beside the dry southern coast of Peru in the river valleys of the Rio Grande de Nazca drainage and the Ica Valley...

 of Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 some 1500 to 2000 years ago, as a tool for designing the famous Nazca ground figures and lines
Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid plateau stretches more than between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana about 400 km south of Lima...

.

In 1709 Brazilian cleric Bartolomeu de Gusmão
Bartolomeu de Gusmão
Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão , was a priest and naturalist born in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil, noted for his early work on lighter-than-air airship design....

 made a balloon filled with heated air rise inside a room in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

. He also built a balloon named (Big bird) and attempted to lift himself from Saint George Castle in Lisbon, but only managed to harmlessly fall about one kilometre away. This claim is not generally recognized by aviation historians outside the Portuguese speaking community, in particular the FAI
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

.

Following Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish FRS was a British scientist noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called "inflammable air". He described the density of inflammable air, which formed water on combustion, in a 1766 paper "On Factitious Airs". Antoine Lavoisier later reproduced Cavendish's experiment and...

's 1766 work on hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

, Joseph Black
Joseph Black
Joseph Black FRSE FRCPE FPSG was a Scottish physician and chemist, known for his discoveries of latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. He was professor of Medicine at University of Glasgow . James Watt, who was appointed as philosophical instrument maker at the same university...

 proposed that a balloon filled with hydrogen would be able to rise in the air.

The first recorded manned flight was made in a hot air balloon built by the Montgolfier brothers
Montgolfier brothers
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the montgolfière-style hot air balloon, globe aérostatique. The brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent, carrying Étienne into the sky...

 on November 21, 1783. The flight started in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and reached a height of 500 feet or so. The pilots, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes
François Laurent d'Arlandes
François Laurent le Vieux d'Arlandes was a French marquis, soldier and a pioneer of hot air ballooning. He and Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon....

, covered about 5½ miles in 25 minutes.

Only a few days later, on December 1, 1783, Professor Jacques Charles
Jacques Charles
Jacques Alexandre César Charles was a French inventor, scientist, mathematician, and balloonist.Charles and the Robert brothers launched the world's first hydrogen-filled balloon in August 1783, then in December 1783, Charles and his co-pilot Nicolas-Louis Robert ascended to a height of about...

 and Nicholas Louis Robert
Robert brothers
Les Frères Robert were two French brothers. Anne-Jean Robert , and Nicolas-Louis Robert , The brothers were the engineers who built the world's first hydrogen balloon for professor Jacques Charles; it flew from central Paris on...

 made the first gas balloon flight, also from Paris. Their hydrogen-filled balloon flew to almost 2,000 feet (600 m), stayed aloft for over 2 hours and covered a distance of 27 miles (43 km), landing in the small town of Nesles-la-Vallée
Nesles-la-Vallée
Nesles-la-Vallée is a commune in the Val-d'Oise department in Île-de-France in northern France.-References:** -External links:* *...

.

The first aircraft disaster occurred in May 1785 when the town of Tullamore
Tullamore
Tullamore is a town in County Offaly, in the midlands of Ireland. It is Offaly's county town and the centre of the district.Tullamore is an important commercial and industrial centre in the region. Major international employers in the town include 'Tyco Healthcare' and 'Boston Scientific'. In...

, County Offaly
County Offaly
County Offaly is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Uí Failghe and was formerly known as King's County until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. Offaly County Council is...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 was seriously damaged when the crash of a balloon resulted in a fire that burned down about 100 houses, making the town home to the world's first aviation disaster
Aviation accidents and incidents
An aviation accident is defined in the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, in which a...

. To this day, the town shield depicts a phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

 rising from the ashes.

Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard , aka Jean Pierre François Blanchard, was a French inventor, most remembered as a pioneer in aviation and ballooning....

 went on to make the first manned flight of a balloon in America on January 9, 1793, after touring Europe to set the record for the first balloon flight in countries including Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. His hydrogen filled balloon took off from a prison yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

. The flight reached 5,800 feet (1,770 m) and landed in Gloucester County, New Jersey
Gloucester County, New Jersey
Gloucester County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 288,288. Its county seat is Woodbury....

. President George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 was among the guests observing the takeoff.

On September 29, 1804, Abraham Hopman became the first Dutchman to make a successful balloon flight in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

.

Gas balloons became the most common type from the 1790s until the 1960s. The French military observation balloon
Observation balloon
Observation balloons are balloons that are employed as aerial platforms for intelligence gathering and artillery spotting. Their use began during the French Revolutionary Wars, reaching their zenith during World War I, and they continue in limited use today....

 L'Intrépide
L'Intrépide
L'Intrépide was a hydrogen balloon of the French Aerostatic Corps and is the oldest preserved aircraft in Europe.L'Intrépide was the larger of two observation balloons, the other being Hercule , issued to the Aerostatic Corps in June 1795...

of 1795 is the oldest preserved aircraft in Europe; it is on display in the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum
Heeresgeschichtliches Museum
The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum is a military history museum located in Vienna, Austria. It claims to be the oldest and largest purpose-built military history museum in the world...

in Vienna.

The first steerable balloon (also known as a dirigible
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

) was flown by Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard was a French engineer. In 1852 he invented the steam injector and the powered airship.-Career:Baptiste Henri Jacques Giffard was born in Paris in 1825...

 in 1852. Powered by a steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

, it was too slow to be effective. As it did with heavier-than-air flight, the internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 made dirigibles – especially blimps – practical, starting in the late 19th century. In 1857 balloonist American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 John Steiner attempted an ambitious flight across Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

:
In 1872 Paul Haenlein
Paul Haenlein
Paul Haenlein was a German engineer and flight pioneer. He flew in a semi-rigid-frame dirigible. His family belonged to the Citoyens notables, those notabilities who led the economy, administration and culture of Mainz.Haenlein received an education as a mechanical engineer and pattern maker...

 flew the first (tethered) internal combustion motor powered balloon. The first to fly in an untethered airship powered by an internal combustion engine was Alberto Santos Dumont in 1898.

Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard
Henri Giffard was a French engineer. In 1852 he invented the steam injector and the powered airship.-Career:Baptiste Henri Jacques Giffard was born in Paris in 1825...

also developed a tethered balloon for passengers in 1878 in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. The first tethered balloon in modern times was made in France at Chantilly Castle in 1994 by Aerophile SA
Aerophile SA
Aerophile SA is a French company specializing in tethered helium balloons, which offer a safe aerial experience from a fixed location.- History :...

.

Ed Yost
Ed Yost
Paul Edward Yost was the American inventor of the modern hot air balloon and is referred to as the "Father of the Modern Day Hot-Air Balloon." He worked for a high altitude research division of General Mills when he helped establish Raven Industries in 1956.-Inventor:Born on a farm 7 miles...

 redesigned the hot air balloon in the late 1950s using rip-stop nylon
Nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

 fabrics and high-powered propane
Propane
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula , normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central...

 burners to create the modern hot air balloon. His first flight of such a balloon, lasting 25 minutes and covering 3 miles (5 km), occurred on October 22, 1960 in Bruning, Nebraska
Bruning, Nebraska
Bruning is a village in Thayer County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 300 at the 2000 census. During World War II the U.S. Army Air Forces operated Bruning Army Airfield nearby...

. Yost's improved design for hot air balloons triggered the modern sport balloon movement. Today, hot air balloons are much more common than gas balloons.
Events in the early history of ballooning; collecting cards from the late 19th century.

As flying machines

A balloon
Balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...

 is conceptually the simplest of all flying machines. The balloon is a fabric envelope filled with a gas that is lighter than the surrounding atmosphere
Lighter than air
Lighter than air refers to gases that are buoyant in air because they have densities lower than that of air .Some of these gases are used as lifting gases in lighter-than-air aircraft, which include free balloons, moored balloons, and airships, to make the whole craft, on average, lighter than air...

. As the entire balloon is less dense
Density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

 than its surroundings, it rises, taking along with it a basket, attached underneath, that carries passengers or payload. Although a balloon has no propulsion system, a degree of directional control is possible through making the balloon rise or sink in altitude to find favorable wind directions.

The first balloons capable of carrying passengers used hot air to obtain buoyancy and were built by the brothers Josef and Etienne Montgolfier
Montgolfier brothers
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the montgolfière-style hot air balloon, globe aérostatique. The brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent, carrying Étienne into the sky...

 in Annonay
Annonay
Annonay is a commune in the north of the Ardèche department in the Rhône-Alpes region in southern France. It is the most populous commune in the Ardèche department, although it is not the capital, which resides in the smaller town of Privas.-Geography:...

, France.

Balloons using the light gas hydrogen for buoyancy were flown less than a month later. They were invented by Professor Jacques Charles
Jacques Charles
Jacques Alexandre César Charles was a French inventor, scientist, mathematician, and balloonist.Charles and the Robert brothers launched the world's first hydrogen-filled balloon in August 1783, then in December 1783, Charles and his co-pilot Nicolas-Louis Robert ascended to a height of about...

 and first flown on December 1, 1783. Gas balloons have greater lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

 and can be flown much longer than hot air, so gas balloons dominated ballooning for the next 200 years. In the 19th century, it was common to use town gas to fill balloons; it was not as light as pure hydrogen gas, but was much cheaper and readily available.

The third balloon type was invented by Pilâtre de Rozier
Pilâtre de Rozier
Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier was a French chemistry and physics teacher, and one of the first pioneers of aviation. He and the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon. He later died when his balloon crashed near Wimereux in...

 and is a hybrid of a hot air and a gas balloon. Gas balloons have an advantage of being able to fly for a long time, and hot air balloons have an advantage of being able to easily change altitude, so the Rozier balloon was a hydrogen balloon with a separate hot air balloon attached. In 1785, Pilâtre de Rozier took off in an attempt to fly across the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, but the balloon exploded a half-hour into the flight. This accident earned de Rozier the title "The First to Fly and the First to Die". It wasn't until the 1980s that technology once again allowed the Rozier balloons to become feasible.

Both the hot air, or Montgolfière, balloon and the gas balloon are still in common use. Montgolfière balloons are relatively inexpensive as they do not require high-grade materials for their envelopes, and they are popular for balloonist sport activity.

In addition to free flight, a balloon may be tethered to allow reliable take off and landing at the same location. This can be done with hot air and gas balloon. Tethered gas balloons have been installed as amusement rides in Paris since 1999, in Berlin since 2000, in Disneyland Resort Paris since 2005, in the San Diego Wild Animal Park since 2005, in Walt Disney World in Orlando since 2009, and the DHL Balloon
DHL Balloon
The DHL Balloon, located in Singapore, was the world's second largest tethered helium balloon. It was closed and dismantled in October 2008.-History:...

 in Singapore since 2006. Modern tethered gas balloons are made by Aerophile SA
Aerophile SA
Aerophile SA is a French company specializing in tethered helium balloons, which offer a safe aerial experience from a fixed location.- History :...

.

Light gas balloons are predominant in scientific applications, as they are capable of reaching much higher altitudes for much longer periods of time. They are generally filled with helium. Although hydrogen has more lifting power, it is explosive in an atmosphere rich in oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

. With a few exceptions, scientific balloon missions are unmanned.

There are two types of light-gas balloons: zero-pressure and superpressure. Zero-pressure balloons are the traditional form of light-gas balloon. They are partially inflated with the light gas before launch, with the gas pressure the same both inside and outside the balloon. As the zero-pressure balloon rises, its gas expands to maintain the zero pressure difference, and the balloon's envelope swells.

At night, the gas in a zero-pressure balloon cools and contracts, causing the balloon to sink. A zero-pressure balloon can only maintain altitude by releasing gas when it goes too high, where the expanding gas can threaten to rupture the envelope, or releasing ballast when it sinks too low. Loss of gas and ballast limits the endurance of zero-pressure balloons to a few days.

A superpressure balloon
Superpressure balloon
A superpressure balloon is a style of aerostatic balloon where the volume of the balloon is kept relatively constant in the face of changes in the temperature of the contained lifting gas. This allows the balloon to keep a stable altitude for long periods...

, in contrast, has a tough and inelastic envelope that is filled with light gas to pressure higher than that of the external atmosphere, and then sealed. The superpressure balloon cannot change size greatly, and so maintains a generally constant volume. The superpressure balloon maintains an altitude of constant density in the atmosphere, and can maintain flight until gas leakage gradually brings it down.

Superpressure balloons offer flight endurance of months, rather than days. In fact, in typical operation an Earth-based superpressure balloon mission is ended by a command from ground control to open the envelope, rather than by natural leakage of gas.

For air transport balloons must contain a gas lighter than the surrounding air. There are two types:
  • Hot air balloon
    Hot air balloon
    The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

    : filled with hot air, which by heating becomes lighter than the surrounding air; they have been used to carry human passengers since the 1790s;
  • Balloons filled with:
    • hydrogen
      Hydrogen
      Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

       - highly flammable (see Hindenburg disaster
      Hindenburg disaster
      The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey...

      )
    • helium
      Helium
      Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

       - safe if used properly, but very expensive.


Large helium balloons are used as high flying vessels to carry scientific instruments (as do weather balloon
Weather balloon
A weather or sounding balloon is a balloon which carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed by means of a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde...

s), or even human passengers with a tether like in İstanbul, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Cluster ballooning
Cluster ballooning
Cluster ballooning is a form of ballooning where a harness attaches a balloonist to a cluster of helium-inflated rubber balloons.Unlike traditional hot-air balloons, where a single large balloon is equipped with vents enabling altitude control, cluster balloons are multiple, small, readily...

 uses many smaller gas-filled balloons for flight (see An Introduction to Cluster Ballooning).

Military use

The first military use of a balloon was at the Battle of Fleurus
Battle of Fleurus (1794)
In the Battle of Fleurus on 26 June 1794, the army of the First French Republic under General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan faced the Coalition Army commanded by Prince Josias of Coburg in the most decisive battle of the Flanders Campaign in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary Wars...

 in 1794, when L'Entreprenant was used by the French Aerostatic Corps
French Aerostatic Corps
The French Aerostatic Corps or Company of Aeronauts was the world's first air force, founded in 1794 to use balloons, primarily for reconnaissance.-Experimentation:...

 to watch the movements of the enemy. On April 2, 1794, an aeronauts corps was created in the French army; however, given the logistical problems linked with the production of hydrogen on the battlefield (it required constructing ovens and pouring water on white-hot iron), the corps was disbanded in 1799.

American Civil War

The first major-scale use of balloons in the military occurred during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 with the Union Army Balloon Corps
Union Army Balloon Corps
The Union Army Balloon Corps was a branch of the Union Army during the American Civil War, established by presidential appointee Thaddeus S. C. Lowe...

 established and organized by Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe
Thaddeus S. C. Lowe
Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe , also known as Professor T. S. C. Lowe, was an American Civil War aeronaut, scientist and inventor, mostly self-educated in the fields of chemistry, meteorology, and aeronautics, and the father of military aerial reconnaissance in the United States...

 in the summer of 1861. Originally, the balloons were inflated with coal gas
Coal gas
Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made by the destructive distillation of coal containing a variety of calorific gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons together with small quantities of non-calorific gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen...

 from municipal services and then walked out to the battlefield, an arduous and inefficient operation as the balloons had to be returned to the city every four days for re-inflation. Eventually hydrogen gas generators
Hydrogen production
Hydrogen production is the family of industrial methods for generating hydrogen. Currently the dominant technology for direct production is steam reforming from hydrocarbons. Many other methods are known including electrolysis and thermolysis...

, a compact system of tanks and copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 plumbing, were constructed which converted the combining of iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 filings and sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

 to hydrogen. The generators were easily transported with the uninflated balloons to the field on a standard buckboard. However, this method shortened the life of the balloons, because traces of the sulfuric acid often entered the balloons along with the hydrogen. In all, Lowe built seven balloons that were fit for military service.

The first application thought useful for balloons was map-making from aerial vantage points, thus Lowe's first assignment was with the Corps of Topographical Engineers
Corps of Topographical Engineers
The U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, was separately authorized on 4 July 1838, consisted only of officers, and was used for mapping and the design and construction of federal civil works such as lighthouses and other coastal fortifications and navigational routes. It included such...

. General Irvin McDowell
Irvin McDowell
Irvin McDowell was a career American army officer. He is best known for his defeat in the First Battle of Bull Run, the first large-scale battle of the American Civil War.-Early life:...

, commander of the Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-History:The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps . Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen...

, realized their value in aerial reconnaissance and had Lowe, who at the time was using his personal balloon the Enterprise
Enterprise (balloon)
The Enterprise was a gas inflated aerostat built by Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe along with his father Clovis Lowe in 1858. It was the second balloon built by Lowe at his Hoboken, N.J. facility and named with the express approval of his wife Leontine because of the money and time they put into...

, called up to the First Battle of Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas , was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia, near the City of Manassas...

. Lowe also worked as a Forward Artillery Observer (FAO) by directing artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 fire via flag signals. This enabled gunners on the ground to fire accurately at targets they could not see, a military first.

Lowe's first military balloon, the Eagle was ready by October 1, 1861. It was called into service immediately to be towed to Lewinsville, Virginia
Lewinsville, Virginia
Lewinsville is an unincorporated community in Fairfax County, Virginia, USA. Traditionally, the center of Lewinsville has been located at the crossroads of Lewinsville and Chain Bridge Roads. Together with Langley, Lewinsville forms the census-designated place of McLean....

, without any gas generator which took longer to build. The trip began after inflation in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 and turned into a 12 mile (19 km), 12-hour excursion that was upended by a gale force wind which ripped the aerostat
Aerostat
An aerostat is a craft that remains aloft primarily through the use of buoyant lighter than air gases, which impart lift to a vehicle with nearly the same overall density as air. Aerostats include free balloons, airships, and moored balloons...

 from its netting and sent it sailing to the coast. Balloon activities were suspended until all balloons and gas generators were completed.

With his ability to inflate balloons from remote stations, Lowe, his new balloon the Washington and two gas generators were loaded onto a converted coal barge the George Washington Parke Custis. As he was towed down the Potomac
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

, Lowe was able to ascend and observe the battlefield as it moved inward on the heavily forested peninsula. This would be the military's first claim of an aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

.

The Union Army Balloon Corps enjoyed more success in the battles of the Peninsula Campaign
Peninsula Campaign
The Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War was a major Union operation launched in southeastern Virginia from March through July 1862, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. The operation, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B...

 than the Army of the Potomac it sought to support. The general military attitude toward the use of balloons deteriorated, and by August 1863 the Balloon Corps was disbanded.

The Confederate Army also made use of balloons, but they were gravely hampered by supplies due to the embargoes. They were forced to fashion their balloons from colored silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

 dress-making material, and their use was limited by the infrequent supply of gas in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. By the summer of 1863, all balloon reconnaissance of the Civil War had ceased.

After the American Civil War

In Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 during July 1863, experimental balloon ascents for reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 purposes were conducted by the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

 on behalf of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, but although the experiments were successful it was considered not worth pursuing further because it was too expensive. However by 1888 a School of Ballooning
School of Ballooning
The School of Ballooning was a training and test centre for British Army experiments with balloons and airships. It was established at Chatham in Kent in 1888. The School moved to Stanhope Lines, Aldershot in 1890 when a balloon section and depot were formed as permanent units of the Royal...

 was established at Chatham, Medway, Kent.

During the Paraguayan War of the Triple Alliance
War of the Triple Alliance
The Paraguayan War , also known as War of the Triple Alliance , was a military conflict in South America fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay...

 (1864–70), balloons were also used for observation by the Brazilian Army
Brazilian Army
The Brazilian Army is the land arm of the Brazilian Military. The Brazilian Army has fought in several international conflicts, mostly in South America and during the 19th century, such as the Brazilian War of Independence , Argentina-Brazil War , War of the Farrapos , Platine War , Uruguayan War ...

.

Balloons were used by the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

 for reconnaissance and observation purposes during the Bechuanaland Expedition (1885), the Sudan Expedition
Nile Expedition
The Nile Expedition, sometimes called the Gordon Relief Expedition , was a British mission to relieve Major-General Charles George Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan. Gordon had been sent to the Sudan to help Egyptians evacuate from Sudan after Britain decided to abandon the country in the face of a...

 (1885) and during the Anglo-Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 (1899–1902). A 11500 ft3 balloon was kept inflated for 22 days and marched 165 miles into the Transvaal with the British forces.

Hydrogen-filled balloons were also widely used during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 (1914–1918) to detect enemy troop movements and to direct artillery fire. Observers phoned their reports to officers on the ground who then relayed the information to those who needed it. Balloons were frequently targets of opposing aircraft. Planes assigned to attack enemy balloons were often equipped with incendiary bullets, for the purpose of igniting the hydrogen.

The Aeronaut Badge was established by the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 in World War I to denote service members who were qualified balloon pilots. Observation balloons were retained well after the Great War, being used in the Russo-Finnish Wars, the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

 of 1939-40, and the Continuation War
Continuation War
The Continuation War was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II.At the time of the war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War...

 of 1941-45.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 launched thousands of helium "fire balloon
Fire balloon
A , or Fu-Go, was a weapon launched by Japan during World War II. A hydrogen balloon with a load varying from a incendiary to one antipersonnel bomb and four incendiary devices attached, they were designed as a cheap weapon intended to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and wreak...

s" against the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. In Operation Outward
Operation Outward
Operation Outward was the name given to the British World War II program to attack Germany by means of free-flying balloons. It made use of cheap, simple gas balloons filled with hydrogen...

 the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 used balloons to carry incendiaries to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.

Large helium balloons are used by the South Korean government and private activists advocating freedom in North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

. They float hundreds of kilometers across the border carrying news from the outside world, illegal radios, foreign currency and gifts of personal hygiene supplies. A North Korean military official has described it as "psychological warfare" and threatened to attack South Korea if their release continued.

Records

On May 27, 1931, Auguste Piccard
Auguste Piccard
Auguste Antoine Piccard was a Swiss physicist, inventor and explorer.-Biography:Piccard and his twin brother Jean Felix were born in Basel, Switzerland...

 and Paul Kipfer became the first to reach the stratosphere
Stratosphere
The stratosphere is the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. It is stratified in temperature, with warmer layers higher up and cooler layers farther down. This is in contrast to the troposphere near the Earth's surface, which is cooler...

 in a balloon.

On March 1, 1999 Bertrand Piccard
Bertrand Piccard
Bertrand Piccard is a Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist.Born in Lausanne, Vaud canton, Bertrand Piccard, along with Brian Jones, was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe...

 and Brian Jones
Brian Jones (aeronaut)
Brian Jones is an English balloonist.Brian Jones, along with Bertrand Piccard, co-piloted the first successful uninterrupted circumnavigation of the world on board the balloon Breitling Orbiter 3...

 set off in the balloon
Balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...

 Breitling Orbiter 3
Breitling Orbiter
Breitling Orbiter was the name of three different Rozière balloons made by Cameron Balloons to circumnavigate the globe, named after the sponsor Breitling...

 from Château d'Oex in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 on the first non-stop balloon circumnavigation
Circumnavigation
Circumnavigation – literally, "navigation of a circumference" – refers to travelling all the way around an island, a continent, or the entire planet Earth.- Global circumnavigation :...

 around the globe. They landed in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 after a 45,755 kilometers flight lasting 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes (95.77 km/h / 59.47 mph).

On August 31, 1933, Alexander Dahl
Alexander Dahl
Alexander Dahl was a German industrialist, author and balloonist. He was the first person to take a photograph of the Earth's curvature from an open hydrogen gas balloon in 1933....

 took the first picture of the Earth's curvature in an open hydrogen gas balloon.

The altitude record for a manned balloon was set at 34,668 meters (113,739 ft) on May 4, 1961 by Malcolm Ross
Malcolm Ross (balloonist)
Malcolm D. Ross was a Captain in the United States Naval Reserve , an atmospheric scientist, and a balloonist who set several records for altitude and scientific inquiry, with more than 100 hours flight time in gas balloons by 1961. Along with Lieutenant Commander Victor A...

 and Victor Prather
Victor Prather
Lieutenant Commander Victor A. Prather Jr. was an American flight surgeon famous for taking part in "Project RAM", a government project to develop the space suit.-Life:...

 in the Stratolab V
Stratolab
Project Strato-Lab was a high-altitude manned balloon program sponsored by the United States Navy during the 1950s and early 1960s. The Strato-Lab program lifted the first Americans into the upper reaches of the stratosphere since World War II. Project Strato-Lab developed out of the Navy's...

 balloon payload launched from the deck of the USS Antietam
USS Antietam (CV-36)
USS Antietam was one of 24 s built during and shortly after World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was the second US Navy ship to bear the name, and was named for the American Civil War Battle of Antietam . Antietam was commissioned in January 1945, too late to actively serve in World...

 in the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

.

The altitude record for an unmanned balloon is 53.0 kilometres (173,882 ft), reached with a volume of 60,000 cubic metres. The balloon was launched by JAXA on May 25, 2002 from Iwate Prefecture
Iwate Prefecture
is the second largest prefecture of Japan after Hokkaido. It is located in the Tōhoku region of Honshū island and contains the island's easternmost point. The capital is Morioka. Iwate has the lowest population density of any prefecture outside Hokkaido...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. This is the greatest height ever obtained by an atmospheric vehicle. Only rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s, rocket planes, and ballistic
Ballistics
Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles, especially bullets, gravity bombs, rockets, or the like; the science or art of designing and accelerating projectiles so as to achieve a desired performance.A ballistic body is a body which is...

 projectiles have flown higher.

In space

The Echo satellite
Echo satellite
Project Echo was the first passive communications satellite experiment. Each of the two American spacecraft was a metalized balloon satellite acting as a passive reflector of microwave signals. Communication signals were bounced off of them from one point on Earth to another.-Echo 1:NASA's Echo 1...

 was a balloon launched into Earth orbit in 1960 and used for passive relay of radio communication. PAGEOS
PAGEOS
PAGEOS was a balloon satellite which was launched by the NASA in June 1966. Pageos had a diameter of exactly , consisted of a thick mylar plastic film coated with vapour deposited aluminium enclosing a volume of and was used for the Weltnetz der Satellitentriangulation -- a global cooperation...

 was another "satelloon" launched in 1966 for worldwide satellite triangulation, allowing for greater precision in the calculation of different locations on the planet's surface.

In 1984 the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 space probes Vega 1 and Vega 2
Vega program
The Vega program was a series of Venus missions which also took advantage of the appearance of Comet Halley in 1986. Vega 1 and Vega 2 were unmanned spacecraft launched in a cooperative effort among the Soviet Union and Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Poland,...

 released two balloons with scientific experiments in the atmosphere of Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

. They transmitted signals for two days to Earth.

In literature

Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

 wrote a non fiction story about being stranded in a hydrogen balloon, see

Sports

See also

  • Balloon Flight Contest
  • Balloon-carried light effect
    Balloon-carried light effect
    A balloon-carried light effect is a special effect carried by a balloon, which can be fixed with a rope to the ground or free-flying.-Uses:...

  • Blimp
    Non-rigid airship
    A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

  • Cluster ballooning
    Cluster ballooning
    Cluster ballooning is a form of ballooning where a harness attaches a balloonist to a cluster of helium-inflated rubber balloons.Unlike traditional hot-air balloons, where a single large balloon is equipped with vents enabling altitude control, cluster balloons are multiple, small, readily...

  • First flying machine
    First flying machine
    There are conflicting views as to what was the first flying machine.Much of the debate surrounding records of early flying machines depends on the exact definition of what constitutes a "flying machine", "flight", and even "first"....

  • Gas balloon
    Gas balloon
    A gas balloon is any balloon that stays aloft due to being filled with a gas less dense than air or lighter than air . A gas balloon may also be called a Charlière for its inventor, the Frenchman Jacques Charles. Today, familiar gas balloons include large blimps and small rubber party balloons...

  • High-altitude balloon

  • Hopper balloon
    Hopper balloon
    A hopper balloon is a small, one-person hot air balloon. Unlike a conventional hot air balloon where people ride inside a basket, there is no basket on a hopper balloon. Instead, the hopper pilot usually sits on a seat or wears a harness similar to a parachute harness. Hoppers are typically flown...

  • Hot air balloon
    Hot air balloon
    The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

  • Hot air ballooning
    Hot air ballooning
    Hot air ballooning is the activity of flying hot air balloons. Attractive aspects of ballooning include the exceptional quiet , the lack of a feeling of movement, and the bird's-eye view...

  • Lane hydrogen producer
    Lane hydrogen producer
    The Lane hydrogen producer was an apparatus for hydrogen production based on the steam-iron process and water gas invented in 1903 by Howard Lane.-History:...

  • List of altitude records reached by different aircraft types
  • List of civil aviation authorities
  • List of early flying machines
  • List of firsts in aviation
  • Observation balloon
    Observation balloon
    Observation balloons are balloons that are employed as aerial platforms for intelligence gathering and artillery spotting. Their use began during the French Revolutionary Wars, reaching their zenith during World War I, and they continue in limited use today....


  • Project Manhigh
    Project Manhigh
    Project Manhigh along with Project Excelsior was a pre-Space Age military project that took men in balloons to the middle layers of the Earth’s stratosphere.-History:...

  • QinetiQ 1
    QinetiQ 1
    QinetiQ 1 was a balloon designed to set a new world altitude record for manned balloon flight of around 40 km . The balloon was named after the main sponsors, QinetiQ .The immense 381 m high zero-pressure balloon was constructed from 5,000 kg of polyethylene...

  • Research balloon
    Research balloon
    Research balloons are balloons that are used for scientific research. They are usually unmanned, filled with a lighter-than-air gas like helium, and fly at high altitudes....

  • Skyhook balloon
    Skyhook balloon
    Skyhook balloons were balloons developed by Otto C. Winzen and General Mills, Inc., and used by the United States Navy Office of Naval Research in the late 1940s and in the 1950s for atmospheric research, especially for constant-level meteorological observations at very high altitudes...

  • Stratobowl
    Stratobowl
    The Stratobowl is a compact natural depression within the limits of Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, south-west of Rapid City. In 1934–1935 it housed a stratospheric balloon launch site, initially known as Stratocamp, sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the United States...

  • Thermal airship
    Thermal airship
    A thermal airship is an airship that generates its lift via the difference in density due to a temperature differential between the gas inside its envelope and the ambient air. Currently all thermal airships use hot air, as used in a hot air balloon, as their lifting gas...

  • Virgin Balloon Flights
    Virgin Balloon Flights
    Virgin Balloon Flights, with headquarters in Telford, Shropshire, began flying hot air balloons in 1987 and its passengers are still flown in red and white balloons with the Virgin Group logo emblazoned on the side of the balloon....

  • Zeppelin
    Zeppelin
    A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...



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