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Hot air balloon was the first human carrying flight technology in the world. It is an extremely popular form of soft adventure in many parts of the world and catching up in India too. Places like Jaipur in Rajasthan and Lonavala in Maharashtra offer great hot air ballooning opportunities.
Here are some really interesting facts about this leisure activity:
- A Sheep, duck and rooster were the first passengers aboard a Hot Air Balloon flight! It was decided to let animals be the test subjects in order to see the effects of the flight. Sheep was chosen to test the effects of high altitude on a land animal and the birds to act as controls in the experiment, owing to their ability to fly.
- In many parts of the world, passengers are served Champagne post a Hot Air Balloon ride. It is a long standing tradition said to have originated in France.
The first balloonists had apparently carried a bottle of champagne with them to toast after the flight. But upon landing, they were attacked by local farmers for polluting their fields with smoke. To dissuade them, they offered them champagne and even though the smoke problem ended with time, this tradition caught on and has stayed till date!
- The first person who flew in a hot air balloon, also, in a tragic event in the future, became the first person to die in one! In 1783, French scientist Jean-François Pilâtre De Rozier, along with aristocrat François Laurent d’Arlandes became the first human beings ever to successfully fly a hot air balloon. Unfortunately in 1785, Rozier became the first hot air balloon crash victim, when his balloon exploded 30 minutes into a flight over the English Channel.
- Hot air balloons have been a part of some quirky love triangles too! In 1808, two Frenchmen, Monsieur Granpree and Le Pique lost their hearts to Mademoiselle Tirevit, a celebrated opera singer. In order to decide who better deserved her, they decided to have a hot air balloon duel! Of course that sounds perfect. Why ask the lady!
So both the gentlemen took to the skies and aimed at each other’s balloons with blunderbusses (firearms with large barrels), until one of the balloon punctured and crashed into the buildings below, killing its occupants. It is said that the lady in question was impressed enough to take the victor’s hand!
- Hot air balloons have been flying at great heights and the highest recorded height that a hot air balloon flight has achieved is a dizzying 68,986 feet! Since it’s nearly impossible to breathe at such heights, supplemental oxygen is needed from 16,000 feet and above. This feat was achieved by Dr. Vijaypat Singhania in 2005 over Mumbai, India.