Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier
On June 5, 1783 there were a lot of people in the central square of a small French town. They heard that Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Etienne, owners of a paper factory, decided to surprise the world – they made a balloon and wanted to run it into the sky. Nobody believed it. People said they were madmen, because only birds could fly.
A special platform was erected in the center of the town square and they made a fire. Eight volunteers brought a giant bag made of fabric, which was placed over the fire. Suddenly the bag took the form of a giant balloon, hovering over the fire. The balloon began rising higher. People could not believe their eyes. Human creation rose above the flying birds. The wind carried it away, and the balloon began falling. Joseph and Etienne were happy, they managed to lift the balloon in the air and it landed safely. Brothers became the first people in the world to launch artificial air flying machine which flew several hundred meters. The flight lasted more than ten minutes. The successful experience was reported to the king Louis XVI. The king invited the brothers to Paris to demonstrate their flying machine. At the same time, he demanded the Academy of Sciences to study the issue of aeronautics and explain the magic of the lift. The arrival of the brothers to Paris delayed. They began to build another balloon with a basket for the passengers. They wanted to surprise not only the audience, but the king.
At last the Montgolfier brothers came to Paris with a new balloon, painted in blue with golden ornaments with a round basket for passengers. They wanted to fly themselves. But Louis XVI refused to risk inventors’ lives, as there was a conventional wisdom that, once a person got off the ground, he immediately died of a broken heart. King agreed to send to the flight two death row criminals. But the brothers were against. They did not want the names of the criminals had become history. They agreed to put a duck, a rooster and a sheep into a basket. The balloon rose to over 1,000 feet and then floated down. The Montgolfier brothers became national figures. A gold medal was struck in their honor.
On September 19, 1783 all the nobles and scientists led by King gathered near the Palace of Versailles. Everyone wanted to see the balloon flying with pets. People were delighted by the spectacle.
On November 21, 1783 first people flew in a hot air balloon in Paris. Their flight lasted 25 minutes. Aeronauts reached the height of 915 meters and covered a distance of 9 km.
The French inventors and industrialists Joseph Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques Etienne (1745-1799) Montgolfier made an important step in the development of aeronautics. They dreamed of creating air floating vehicle and wanted people to be able to fly freely like a bird.
Their father owned a large paper mill and gave them a good education. His sons became successful inventors.
Etienne died in Switzerland on August 2, 1799. Joseph died at Balaruc-les-Bains on June 26, 1810.