June 5 – Hot Air Balloon Day

Posted June 5, 2013

Today we celebrate a very brave pig, duck and rooster!

The three creatures took the world's very first hot-air balloon ride on this date in 1783. They all did just fine, health-wise, although many thought they would run out of oxygen going so high in the sky!

We probably should also credit the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Etienne, since they were the ones who built up to this experiment with smaller balloons, they were the ones who created the huge globe-shaped balloon out of sackcloth and paper, and they were the ones who plunked the farm animals into the hot air balloon's basket!

It is hard to believe that the heavy (500 pounds, or 225 kg) balloon, with its 1,800 buttons and a fish net of cord, actually rose more than 6,000 feet (2,000 m) into the air and stayed aloft for 10 minutes! Nowadays hot-air balloons are made of rip-stop nylon or polyester treated with coatings to withstand ultraviolet light. They are usually made of 1200 to 1500 square yards of fabric, 2,500 feet of tape, and 6-8 miles (miles!) of thread. Modern balloons generally weigh between 200 and 350 pounds—a lot lighter than the Montgolfiers' balloon. But the basket and fuel tanks add another 400 or so pounds, and that first balloon did not have fuel tanks.

(Surprisingly enough, the pig, duck and rooster just stood around and tolerated the flight; they did not steer or reheat the air!)

What makes a hot air ballon rise?

You probably already know that hot air rises. If you have ever been in a two-story house, you've surely noticed that upstairs gets very stuffy on a hot day, Or that cooling the air of the upper story can cause a sort of waterfall of cool air pouring downstairs in the stairwell.

This is because heat causes the various molecules in the air to jiggle much, much faster, and they spread out more. As the air inside the hot air balloon heats up, the balloon seems to inflate as the air inside becomes warmer and warmer and expands more and more. Eventually the balloon becomes so full of low-density air that it rises—carrying up the basket and any passengers.

You know, passengers like a honeymoon couple. Or sightseers and adventure junkies. And your occasional pig!

Check it out...

Here is a YouTube video that shows a sort of homemade hot-air balloon. (Don't try this at home without adult consent!) 

By the way...

It may not have been a pig, a duck, and rooster that took that first flight.

It may have been a sheep, a goat, and a duck...or maybe a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. I cannot seem to find any two websites that agree! But it is always three animals, and they are always barnyard animals.)


If you cannot spend the time or money on a hot-air balloon flight, check out these ideas for cookies and centerpieces and cupcakes to celebrate the day! 

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest pages on June holidayshistorical anniversaries in June, and June birthdays.


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