The first unmanned hot air balloon flight took place in France on June 5th 1783 with farm animals as passengers. The Montgolfier brothers of Annonay France constructed a balloon from silk and paper.
The air within the balloon was heated from a fire on the ground. It flew about a mile and landed with no harm to the animals. The first manned flight was November of 1783 piloted by Pilatre de Rozier and Marquie de Arlandes in a Montogolfier brother’s balloon. In 1785 French balloonist Jean Pierre Blanchard, with his co-pilot, American John Jefferies were the first to cross the English Channel in a hot-air balloon. Jean Pierre Blanchard also became the first to fly a hot air balloon in North America where the launch was attended by George Washington. Hot air balloons were used for warfare, transportation surveying, and communications from the American Civil War through World War l and World War ll. In 1960 Paul Yost piloted a balloon with a new envelope and new propane burner system that he had developed. He flew twenty-five minutes and a distance of three miles. His company, Raven Enterprises, began producing balloons for sale to the public. Then as other balloon companies sprang up the sport of hot air ballooning began to grow. Paul Yost is known as the father of modern hot air ballooning. The First National Balloon Rally was held in Statesville, North Carolina in 1974 and continues today at the Statesville Regional Airport every October. The worlds largest balloon competition is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta held each year in Albuquerque New Mexico. Advancements made in the burner systems, the fabrics for the balloon envelopes, materials for the baskets, pilot training and licensing have made hot air ballooning one of the safest forms of air travel.