Hot Air Balloon Day

June 5 is Hot Air Balloon Day. We celebrate it on this date because the first “manned” flight was made this day in 1783. There’s some debate about just what creatures made this first flight, but the most likely were a pig, a duck, and a rooster. The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Etienne did experiments with smaller balloons, working up to the one carrying the animals. This first balloon was made out of sackcloth and paper. The five hundred pound balloon went aloft 6,000 feet and stayed in flight for ten minutes. The animals all survived.

Today balloons are made out of nylon or polyester. They usually consist of 1200 to 1500 square yards of fabric, 2,500 feet of tape, and 6-8 miles (yes, miles) of thread. Modern balloons generally weigh between 200 and 350 pounds, plus the weight of the fuel tanks.

I have always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon – not the ones at a fair, which just go up a few feet and then come down again, but the kind that actually goes somewhere. It’s one of those things on my bucket list that probably won’t ever happen. Still, I can dream!

If you love watching the colorful balloons, you can find a list on the Web of places in the US which are having hot air balloon festivals. Unsurprisingly, the site is called HotAirBalloon.com.

If you are a fan of Bill Nye the science guy, you can see him doing a simple demonstration of creating a hot air balloon . It’s definitely geared towards kids, but he’s always amusing to watch.

Quotes about hot air balloons and balloons in general

We should all have personal hot air balloons and drift serenely through the clouds.–Rhys Bowen

My grandmother flew only once in her life, and that was the day she and her new husband ascended into the skies of Victorian London in the wicker basket of a hot-air balloon. They were soon to emigrate to Canada, and the aerial ride was meant to be a last view of their beloved England.–Alan Bradley

The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the earth flies past underneath.–Alberto Santos-Dumont

Well, the odds must be against anybody being able to fly around the world in a balloon on the first attempt. All of us who are attempting to go around the world in balloons are effectively flying in experimental craft because these craft cannot be tested.–Richard Branson

Life is like a balloon; you must put something into it to get the best possible results.–William Cranch Bond

Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.–A. A. Milne

Imagination is like a lofty building reared to meet the sky; whereas fancy is a balloon that soars at the wind’s will.–Gelett Burgess

We buy balloons, we let them go.–Bret Easton Ellis

If I were mayor, I’d invite everyone to have free boat trips on the river and free balloon rides over the city. I’d let the elderly in residential homes wander free.–Jane Birkin

It is a good thing, therefore, to make short excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common every-day beauty.–John Muir

When I am holding a water balloon, so many things look so unnecessarily dry.–Demetri Martin

There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.–Terry Pratchett

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