Beta Sigma Phi gives presentation on the history of hot air balloons

At the May Beta Sigma Phi meeting, Connie Joubert presented a program on hot air balloons. The meeting was held in Joubert’s home.

During her presentation she stated that French brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier pioneered the hot air balloon 120 years before the Wright Brothers’ first flight attempt.

In 1782, the French brothers discovered heated air, collected inside a large lightweight paper or fabric bag caused the bag to rise into the air.

In mid 1783, the Montgolfier brothers gave their first demonstration. The balloon rose about 3,000 feet and stayed up for ten minutes before settling 1.5 miles from it’s original point.

Later, in September of 1783, at the Palace of Versailles, a demonstration was performed for King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

The king forbade human passengers as he didn’t like the black smoke produced by the balloon. A rooster, a duck, and a sheep were the first living passengers. They remained in the air eight minutes and made a safe landing two miles from the launch site.

At a second demo in Versailles in November of 1783, the king agreed to allow passengers. Two Frenchmen flew 5.5 miles over Paris and landed safely.

Ballooning went from basic concept to successful testing in less than a year. It became very popular with the affluent and adventurous.

Progress came in the form of hydrogen which was invented in 1766 and became the preferred gas for ballooning.

In 1960, propane produced hot air and became the fuel for the balloon.

Balloons are at the mercy of the wind, so they never became used as transportation. However, they did inspire over 100 year belief that the aircraft held a great promise for future transportation.

Connie then told of her exciting hot air balloon experience last month in Alexandria. All members enjoyed the program.

Afterwards, Connie served refreshments to Beta Sigma Phi members Shirley Griffin, Nancy Tislow, Jane Love, Gloria Cart, Clementine Kirsch, Jean Hanks, and Elsie Rowell. A door prize was won by Jane Love.

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