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Wikipedia says:
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology, dating back to its invention by the Montgolfier brothers in Annonay, France in 1783. The first flight carrying humans was made on November 21, 1783, in Paris by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes.

Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind are known as airships or, more commonly, thermal airships.

A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is the gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule) which carries the passengers and a source of heat. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the rising hot air only exerts pressure on the upper hemisphere of the balloon to provide lift. In today's sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex.

Recently, balloon envelopes have been made in fantastic shapes, such as hot dogs, rocket ships, and the shapes of commercial products.
Unmanned hot air balloons are popular in Chinese history. Zhuge Liang of the Shu Han kingdom, in the Three Kingdoms era, used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns (孔明灯).

There is also some speculation that hot air balloons were used by the Nazca Indians of Peru some 1500 years ago as a tool for designing vast drawings on the Nazca plain.

The first clearly recorded instances of balloons capable of carrying passengers used hot air to obtain buoyancy and were built by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France. These brothers came from a family of paper manufacturers and had noticed the ash rising in fires. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first balloon flight with humans on board took place on October 19, 1783 with the scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, the manufacture manager, Jean-Baptiste Réveillon and Giroud de Villette, at the Folie Titon in Paris. Officially, the first flight was 1 month later, 21 November 1783. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but a young physicist named Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis Francois d'Arlandes successfully petitioned for the honor.[4][5][6] The first hot air balloons were basically cloth bags (sometimes lined with paper) with a smoky fire built on a grill attached to the bottom. They had a tendency to catch fire and be destroyed upon landing, although this was infrequent.

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Additional Photos by Marque Berger (rio_de_janeiro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 78 W: 82 N: 410] (2091)
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