Kuiper poses in a field of tulips with two hot air balloons in the background.

First Hot Air Balloon Ride

Kuiper gives me the stink-eye, the super stink-eye, and “stink-eye director’s edition extended cut” because he’s not tall enough for a balloon ride. Ears don’t count.

Did you know that the 1st hot air balloon passenger was a sheep, a duck and a rooster in a trenchcoat*? ????️‍♀️ The farm animals took flight on September 19th, 1783 at the Palace of Versailles in France. ?? The flight was witnessed by King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and an enormous crowd of bystanders. Because I’m not a monster, I will tell you up front that they survived the historic 8 minute flight. They walked, waddled and strutted away mostly unscathed (the rooster required minor medical attention ? due to being kicked by the sheep.)

The sheep, duck and rooster weren’t chosen at random; they were an early example of an experiment with a control.? At the time, we didn’t really know what effects altitude might have on the human body. The reasoning went: sheep, like us, do not fly. Ducks, unlike us, do fly. Roosters fly but not particularly well. The duck was expected to be fine, but the effects of altitude on the sheep and the rooster were less certain.

The two Montgolfier brothers Joseph and Jacques, who had designed and built the hot air balloon and performed the demo, were delighted that it worked. However, they didn’t really understand how. We know today that heat causes air to expand, making the air in the balloon lighter than the air outside of the balloon.

Since Joseph had originally gotten his idea from watching a smoky wood fire ?, they were convinced there was a special gas in smoke causing the balloon to rise. As a result, they tried to make their fire as smoky as possible by using wet straw (from a barn…use your imagination), wool and old shoes.  The King of France was reportedly impressed by the demo, but not by the smell. ?

The success of the 1st experiment led to the first untethered, manned flight on November 21, 1783. In attendance were Benjamin Franklin, John Jay (1st US Chief Justice) and future President John Quincy Adams (the last 16 years old.) In a letter, Franklin noted that “This Balloon was larger than that which…carried the sheep.” ?

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiPhSS6AMWT/

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