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Chapter 1 Early Aviation (1783-1914) Section A – The Invention of Aviation Section B – Balloons Section C – Dirigibles Section D – Airships Introduction How far back did the dream of flying go?

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chapter 1 early aviation 1783 1914

Chapter 1Early Aviation (1783-1914)

Section A – The Invention of Aviation

Section B – Balloons

Section C – Dirigibles

Section D – Airships



How far back did the dream of flying go?

Ancient Greek myth tells the story of Daedalus, who constructed wings of wax and feathers. He and his son Icarus used the wings to escape captivity from Crete. Icarus, ignoring warnings from his father flew too close to the sun and melted his wings.

Icarian – (adj.) someone with high-flying or bold ambition.


As far we can tell, manned flight began in France in 1783.

  • Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier invent the hot air balloon.
  • From the balloon, came dirigibles, the addition of power and control, gliders, airplanes…

And the rest is history.

section a the invention of aviation

Section AThe Invention of Aviation

Aviation began in the provincial French town of Annonay, where the brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier lived. The year was 1783.

the montgolfier bros
The Montgolfier Bros.

Joseph and Etienne (E.T.) Montgolfier

  • Papermakers
  • Interested in mechanics and science, Joseph conceived the ides of aviation.
    • Joseph performed experiments relating to flight in order to understand the mechanical nature of heat
    • He saw smoke rise from fire and experimented with a paper bag over the fire. He made a model of taffeta and watched the model rise to the ceiling. The first hot air balloon was born.
the montgolfier bros6
The Montgolfier Bros.

ET Montgolfier reported the experiments to the Bureau of Commerce Dec. 1782.

  • He suggested the new machine be used…
    • To transmit communications
    • To conduct scientific experiments
    • Carry people
    • Drop bombs
    • Or transport goods
the montgolfier bros7
The Montgolfier Bros.

The bros. constructed a full-size machine, but their elderly father prohibited the bros. from flying.

  • Modifications were made
    • Eliminated wood form, went with an envelope
    • Used hot air instead of hydrogen, which was too expensive to obtain.
the montgolfier bros8
The Montgolfier Bros.
  • The first public ascension scheduled
    • 4 June 1783

Officials were invited to document the event

  • Balloon rose to almost 3000 ft.
  • Flew about 1 ½ miles

The flight ended because of warm air leaking out of button-holes, crashed, and caught on fire.

  • Overall, the experiment was a success.
the montgolfier bros9
The Montgolfier Bros.

In Paris the bros. sought government funds to reimburse their expenses and to finance further development of aviation.

They also wanted publicity for their ballooning and to help increase orders for their papermaking business.


Charles needed help with creating a tight sealed envelope.

  • A.J. and M.N. Robert bros.
    • Dissolved rubber in turpentine
    • Allowed them to rubberize silk taffeta fabric
  • Robert bros. create hydrogen
    • Filled an oak barrel with iron filings, poured sulfuric acid over the filings. A copper tube carried the hydrogen to a valve on the balloon

Competition soon followed the bros.

  • J.A.C Charles
    • French physicist
    • Award grant from the French Academy of Sciences
    • Used hydrogen as the lifting agent
      • Hydrogen balloon

27 August 1783

Charles and his crew released their balloon about 5pm in front of ticket holders.

  • It rose about 1,500 ft and disappeared into the clouds
  • The balloon burst, fell to the ground, and was attacked by frighten peasants with pitchforks.
  • The balloon was destroyed
hot air development
Hot Air Development
  • The Montgolfier bros. continued their work on ballooning
    • ET arranged the Academy of Sciences to finance their balloon under assembly at the Reveillion wallpaper factory. Hence, why most paintings have elegantly designed balloons
    • They scheduled another flight, but was cancelled by rain, but the next flight would be big…….
hot air development14
Hot Air Development

19 September 1783

The Montgolfier bros. demonstrated their balloon in front Royalty

    • King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
    • At Versailles, France
  • The first passengers
    • A Sheep, a duck, and a rooster
    • Rose to 1,500 ft, landed safely, SUCCESS!!
manned flight
Manned Flight

October 1783

  • ET built and tested a tethered balloon in which he rode in
    • Was not publicized because of his father.
  • Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent
    • Made the first public manned flight in a free Montgolfier balloon, 21 November 1783.
    • Witnessed by Benjamin Franklin
hydrogen balloon development
Hydrogen Balloon Development

Competition gets too good…

  • The Robert bros. improves the method of making hydrogen.

1 December 1783

    • M.N. Charles and J.A.C. Charles took-off from Paris and flew 17 miles.
    • After they landed, Charles want solo
      • Climbed to 9,000 ft, got scared
      • Never flew again!!
section b balloons

Section BBalloons

What the Montgolfier bros. had begun in 1783 quickly spread. Ballooning became immediately popular throughout Europe and soon spread to America. J.A.C. Charles stopped flying, but the Montgolfier bros. were not through yet.

the montgolfiers continue
The Montgolfiers Continue

A large balloon was constructed by Joseph Montgolfier. It was designed to carry six passengers.

    • The day before the flight, the balloon was damaged by rain, sleet, fire, and snow.
    • The balloon was then hijacked by four noblemen – with guns.
    • With a total of 7 passengers, the balloon slowly rose to 2,500 ft, tore landed hard.
  • The bros. last contribution was the invention of the parachute - Joseph Montgolfier, 1784.
military aviation
Military Aviation

France was leading the world in Aviation, including military aviation.

  • Military aviation began in France in 1793
    • A confiscated balloon was assigned to the Republican Army by Napoleon.
    • In 1794, the French Army organized the Compagnie d’Aerostiers.
    • Used for observation of Austrian maneuvers
    • The balloon corps was captured by the Austrians in Wurzburg in September 1796.
international aviation
International Aviation
  • On 25 Feb 1784
    • Paolo Andreani, Charles Gerli, and Augustin Gerli made the first balloon ascension in Italy
  • 1784, manned flight was achieved in
    • Ireland, Scotland, England, and the US
international aviation21
International Aviation
  • Jean-Pierre Blanchard (French Balloonist) and John Jeffries (US expatriate)
    • Made two “aerial voyages”
    • The second trip was from England to France on 7 January 1785

For the non-geography buffs, they were the first to cross the English Channel by air.

ballooning in the us
Ballooning in the US
  • 1784, College of William and Mary in Virginia established a Balloon Club
    • Edward Warren, 13, became this first to achieve the first manned ascent in the US, tethered.
    • Blanchard accomplished the first free balloon flight in all the Americas 9 January 1793
      • He was presented a written passport for safe conduct by President George Washington.
exhibition flying
Exhibition Flying

The favorite of the professional aeronauts…

    • Flying for exhibition
    • Flying for distance
  • Charles Green
    • Invented the dragline
      • Rope attached to the balloon basket and used to slow the speed of ascent of descent when near the ground.
exhibition flying24
Exhibition Flying

In the US, ballooning entered the golden age in the 1830s

  • Charles Ferson Durant became known as “The American Aeronaut”
  • World Distance Records
    • Richard Clayton - Cincinnati, OH, to Monroe County,VA. 350 miles in 1835
    • John Wise, O. Gager, John La Mountain- St. Louis to Henderson, NY. 809 miles in 1859
exhibition flying25
Exhibition Flying

Crossing the Atlantic became the next

Big Thing…

  • Many fakes
  • Many attempts
  • Many failures

But we’ll get there…

military aviation developments
Military Aviation Developments
  • The Austrian military launched unmanned balloons – dropping bombs – against Italy in WW II.
  • Thaddeus Lowe developed aerial recon techniques during the US Civil war
  • Union soldiers converted a coal barge to a balloon carrier, an operation carrier (technically the first aircraft carrier).

Can’t fly to the Frogs? Go See Santa.

  • S.A. Andrée, Swedish aeronaut
    • Decided to attempt to fly across the N. Pole, 1894
    • 1st attempt failed
    • 2nd attempt, 11 July 1897
      • Andrée and two others (Strindberg and Fraenkel)
      • Ascend from Spitsbergen
      • They disappeared
turn of the century
Turn of the Century
  • Newspapers recognized the “newsworthiness” of aviation
    • Started sponsoring expeditions
  • Ballooning becomes the “rich mans” sport
  • Gordon Bennett
    • New York Herald publisher
    • Sponsors first annual balloon race, 1906
    • Raced for distance, not time
end of section a b

End of Section A & B

Any questions thus far?