Montgolfier brothers
Overview
 
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier (26 August 1740 – 26 June 1810) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (6 January 1745 – 2 August 1799) 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. Later, in December 1783, in recognition of their achievement, their father Pierre was elevated to the nobility and the hereditary appellation of de Montgolfier by King Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

.
The brothers were born into a family of paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 manufacturers 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:...

, in Ardèche
Ardèche
Ardèche is a department in south-central France named after the Ardèche River.- History :The area has been inhabited by humans at least since the Upper Paleolithic, as attested by the famous cave paintings at Chauvet Pont d'Arc. The plateau of the Ardeche River has extensive standing stones ,...

, France.
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Encyclopedia
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier (26 August 1740 – 26 June 1810) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (6 January 1745 – 2 August 1799) 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. Later, in December 1783, in recognition of their achievement, their father Pierre was elevated to the nobility and the hereditary appellation of de Montgolfier by King Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

.

Early years

The brothers were born into a family of paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 manufacturers 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:...

, in Ardèche
Ardèche
Ardèche is a department in south-central France named after the Ardèche River.- History :The area has been inhabited by humans at least since the Upper Paleolithic, as attested by the famous cave paintings at Chauvet Pont d'Arc. The plateau of the Ardeche River has extensive standing stones ,...

, France. Their parents were Pierre Montgolfier (1700–1793) and his wife, Anne Duret (1701–1760), who had sixteen children. Pierre established his eldest son, Raymond Montgolfier, later Raymond de Montgolfier (1730–1772), as his successor.

Joseph, the 12th child, possessed a typical inventor's temperament—a maverick and dreamer, and impractical in terms of business and personal affairs. Étienne had a much more even and businesslike temperament. As the 15th child, and particularly troublesome to his elder siblings, he was sent to Paris to train as an architect. However, after the sudden and unexpected death of Raymond in 1772, he was recalled to Annonay to run the family business. In the subsequent 10 years, Étienne applied his talent for technical innovation to the family business; paper making was a high-tech industry in the 18th century. He succeeded in incorporating the latest Dutch innovations of the day into the family mills. His work led to recognition by the government of France as well as the awarding of a government grant to establish the Montgolfier factory as a model for other French paper makers.

Early experiments

Of the two brothers, it was Joseph who first contemplated building machines. Gillispie puts it as early as 1777 when Joseph observed laundry drying over a fire incidentally form pockets that billowed upwards. Joseph made his first definitive experiments in November 1782 while living in the city of Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

. He reported, some years later, that he was watching a fire one evening while contemplating one of the great military issues of the day—an assault on the fortress of Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

, which had proved impregnable by both sea and land. Joseph mused on the possibility of an air assault using troops lifted by the same force that was lifting the embers from the fire. He believed that contained within the smoke was a special gas, which he called Montgolfier Gas, with a special property he called levity.

As a result of these musings, Joseph set about building a box-like chamber 1×1×1.3 m (3 ft by 3 ft (0.9144 m) by 4 ft) out of very thin wood and covering the sides and top with lightweight taffeta
Taffeta
Taffeta is a crisp, smooth plain woven fabric made from silk or synthetic fibers. The word is Persian in origin, and means "twisted woven." It is considered to be a "high end" fabric, suitable for use in ball gowns, wedding dresses, and in interiors for curtains or wallcovering. There are two...

 cloth. He crumpled and lit some paper under the bottom of the box. The contraption quickly lifted off its stand and collided with the ceiling. Joseph then recruited his brother to balloon building by writing the prophetic words, "Get in a supply of taffeta and of cordage, quickly, and you will see one of the most astonishing sights in the world."
The two brothers then set about building a contraption three times larger in scale (27 times larger in volume). The lifting force was so great that they lost control of their craft on its very first test flight on 14 December 1782. The device floated nearly two kilometers (about 1.2 mi). It was destroyed after landing by the "indiscretion" of passersby.

Public demonstrations

The brothers decided to make a public demonstration of a balloon in order to establish their claim to its invention. They constructed a globe-shaped balloon of sackcloth with three thin layers of paper inside. The envelope could contain nearly 790 m³ (28,000 cubic feet) of air and weighed 225 kg (500 lb). It was constructed of four pieces (the dome and three lateral bands) and held together by 1,800 buttons. A reinforcing fish net of cord covered the outside of the envelope.

On 4 June 1783, they flew this craft as their first public demonstration at Annonay in front of a group of dignitaries from the Etats particulars. Its flight covered 2 km (1.2 mi), lasted 10 minutes, and had an estimated altitude of 1,600-2,000 m (5,200-6,600 ft). Word of their success quickly reached Paris. Étienne went to the capital to make further demonstrations and to solidify the brothers' claim to the invention of flight. Joseph, given his unkempt appearance and shyness, remained with the family. Étienne was the epitome of sober virtues ... modest in clothes and manner...
In collaboration with the successful wallpaper manufacturer Jean-Baptiste Réveillon
Jean-Baptiste Réveillon
Jean-Baptiste Réveillon, was a French wallpaper manufacturer. Réveillon's career was an exemplary story of the self-made businessman.-Life:...

, Étienne constructed a 37500 cubic feet (1,061.9 m³) envelope of taffeta coated with a varnish of alum
Alum
Alum is both a specific chemical compound and a class of chemical compounds. The specific compound is the hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate with the formula KAl2.12H2O. The wider class of compounds known as alums have the related empirical formula, AB2.12H2O.-Chemical properties:Alums are...

 (which has fireproofing properties). The balloon was sky blue and decorated with golden flourishes, signs of the zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

, and suns. The design showed the intervention of Réveillon. The next test was on the 11th of September from the grounds of la Folie Titon, close to the house of Réveillon. There was some concern about the effects of flight into the upper atmosphere on living creatures. The king proposed to launch two criminals, but it is most likely that the inventors decided to send a sheep, a duck, and a rooster aloft first.

On 19 September 1783. the Aerostat Réveillon was flown with the first living beings in a basket attached to the balloon: a sheep called Montauciel ("Climb-to-the-sky"), a duck and a rooster.
The sheep was believed to have a reasonable approximation of human physiology. The duck was expected to be unharmed by being lifted aloft. It was included as a control for effects created by the aircraft rather than the altitude. The rooster was included as a further control as it was a bird that did not fly at high altitudes. This demonstration was performed before a crowd at the royal palace in Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

, before King Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 and Queen Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

. The flight lasted approximately eight minutes, covered two miles (3 km), and obtained an altitude of about 1500 feet (457.2 m). The craft landed safely after flying.

Manned flight

With the successful demonstration at Versailles, and again in collaboration with Réveillon, Étienne started construction of a 60000 cubic feet (1,699 m³) balloon for the purpose of making flights with humans. The balloon was about seventy-five feet tall and about fifty feet in diameter. It had rich decorative touches supplied by Réveillon. The color scheme was gold figures on a deep blue background. Fleur-de-lis, signs of the zodiac, and suns with Louis XVI's face in the center interlaced with the royal monogram in the central section graced the majestic machine. Red and blue drapery and golden eagles were at the base of the balloon. It is fitting that Étienne Montgolfier was the first human to lift off the earth, making at least one tethered flight from the yard of the Réveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. It was most likely on October 15, 1783. A little while later on that same day, Pilâtre de Rozier became the second to ascend into the air, to an altitude of 80 feet (24.4 m), which was the length of the tether. On 21 November 1783, the first free flight by humans was made by Pilâtre, together with an army officer, the marquis d'Arlandes. The flight began from the grounds of the Château de la Muette
Château de la Muette
The Château de la Muette is a château located on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, France, near the Porte de la Muette.Three châteaux have been located on the site since a hunting lodge was transformed into the first château for Princess Marguerite de Valois, favorite daughter of King...

 (close to the Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne
The Bois de Boulogne is a park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt and Neuilly-sur-Seine...

 (park)) in the western outskirts of Paris. They flew aloft about 3000 feet (914.4 m) above 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...

 for a distance of nine kilometres. After 25 minutes, the machine landed between the windmills, outside the city ramparts, on the Butte-aux-Cailles
Butte-aux-Cailles
The Butte-aux-Cailles is a neighbourhood of Paris, France located in the XIIIe arrondissement on one of the hills in the southeast corner of the city....

. Enough fuel remained on board at the end of the flight to have allowed the balloon to fly four to five times as far. However, burning embers from the fire were scorching the balloon fabric and had to be daubed out with sponges. As it appeared it could destroy the balloon, Pilâtre took off his coat to stop the fire.

The early flights made a sensation. Numerous engravings commemorated the events. Chairs were designed with balloon backs, and mantel clocks were produced in enamel and gilt-bronze replicas set with a dial in the balloon. One could buy crockery decorated with naive pictures of balloons.

Following launches

In 1766, the British scientist 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...

 had discovered hydrogen, by adding sulphuric acid to iron, tin, or zinc shavings. The development of 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 proceeded almost in parallel with the work of the Montgolfiers. This work was led by Jacques Charles and les Frères Robert (Anne-Jean Robert, and Nicolas-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...

). On 27 August 1783, Le Globe, a 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...

 balloon, was launched from the Champ de Mars
Champ de Mars
The Champ de Mars is a large public greenspace in Paris, France, located in the seventh arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the École Militaire to the southeast. The park is named after the Campus Martius in Rome, a tribute to the Roman god of war...

 in Paris. Six thousand people paid for a seat. On December 1, Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert flew La Charlière, the first manned hydrogen balloon, for 2 hour 5 minutes and covered 36 km. Jacques Charles immediately flew again, alone, and ascended to 3,000 metres.

Work on each type of balloon was spurred on by the knowledge that there was a competing group and alternative technology. For a variety of reasons, including the fact that the French government chose to put a proponent of hydrogen in charge of balloon development, 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 were superseded by 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...

 balloons. Hydrogen balloons became the predominant technology for the next 180 years.

Hydrogen balloons were used for all major ballooning accomplishments, such as the crossing of 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...

 on 7 January 1785 by the tireless aviators 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....

 and Dr. John Jeffries
John Jeffries
John Jeffries was a Boston physician, scientist, and a military surgeon with the British Army in Nova Scotia and New York during the American Revolution. Born in Boston, Jeffries graduated from Harvard College and obtained his medical degree at the University of Aberdeen...

, from Boston.

Competing claims

Some claim that the hot air balloon was invented some 74 years earlier by the Brazilian Portuguese
Brazilian Portuguese
Brazilian Portuguese is a group of Portuguese dialects written and spoken by most of the 190 million inhabitants of Brazil and by a few million Brazilian emigrants, mainly in the United States, United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada, Japan and Paraguay....

 priest 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....

. A description of his invention was published in 1709 in Vienna, and another one that was lost was found in the Vatican (circa 1917).
However, this claim is not generally recognized by aviation historians outside the Portuguese-speaking community, in particular the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
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...

.

The Montgolfier company

The Montgolfier Company still exists in Annonay (Ardèche, France). In 1798, Etienne de Montgolfier died. His son-in-law, Barthélémy Barou de la Lombardière de Canson (1774-1859), succeeded him as the head of the company, thanks to his marriage with Alexandrine de Montgolfier. The company became "Montgolfier et Canson" in 1801 , then "Canson-Montgolfier" in 1807.
Nowadays, Canson still produces fine art papers, school drawing papers and digital fine art and photography papers and is sold in 120 countries.

External links

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