Flights of Fantasy: The Hot Air Balloon

Bartolomeu de Gusmão (1685-1724), the Brazilian born priest and scientist had a vision of faster communication for the Portuguese Empire. His flying machine was called the “large bird” or Passarola. The aerostat debuted in Lisbon in1709 but sadly never flew between Portugal, Brazil and India as was envisioned. Later the FrenchMontgolfier Brothers would invent an equally fanciful airship. Joseph-Michel Montgolfier (1740–1810), Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (1745-1799) along with wallpaper manufacturer Jean-Baptiste Réveillon (1725 -1811) created the montgolfier style hot air balloon. The silk and paper envelope was a vivid sky blue embellished with gold suns and flourishes. Called Aerostat Réveillon it was launched in 1783 originally "manned" by a sheep, duck and rooster. This was followed by the successful flight of Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes both regarded as pioneers of hot air ballooning. The Swiss scientist Johann Caspar Horner (1734–1834) took the technology to the East when he visited Japan in 1805. Fabricating a hot air balloon from Japanese paper it was flown in front of thirty Japanese delegates.