Virgin Balloon Flights have been granting tickets to the skies for nineteen years now.

It’s safe to say that we know a thing or two about aviation, but where would we be without our ballooning ancestors?

Two hundred and thirty years ago today hot air ballooning was born outside the palace gates of Versailles in Paris.

Our sport has come a long way since then, but if it wasn’t for the ingenuity of the Montgolfier brothers back in 1783, who knows when the ballooning tradition would have begun.

Modern hot air balloons don’t look too far removed from the original Montgolfier model, but there are a few notable differences.

The French brothers made their balloon from taffeta and coated it with a fireproof varnish. Today, our balloons are made from a lightweight material called ripstop nylon.

When you take to the skies with Virgin Balloon Flights, you can expect to share your experience with up to fifteen other excited passengers. To be clear, that’s fifteen human beings, sixteen including a pilot.

In the name of science and safety, the Montgolfiers sent three animals on the first balloon flight; a duck, a rooster and a sheep.

The sheep was thought to function in a similar way to a human being and therefore have a similar reaction to the experience. The rooster, unable to fly at height, was sent aboard to highlight the impact of high altitudes on a living creature. And the duck, able to fly itself, was included as a control for effects created by the aircraft rather than the altitude.

Performed in front of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, the tethered flight was afloat for eight minutes and landed successfully, leaving all three daring passengers unhurt.

Moving a step nearer to what we offer here at Virgin Balloon Flights, the first manned, free flying balloon ride took place in November of the same year.

Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes, a French military officer, made the first free ascent in a balloon, flying from the centre of Paris to the suburbs. The flight lasted 25 minutes.

Two hundred and thirty years later, here we are sending thousands of passengers up each year. The efficiency and aesthetics of ballooning have changed but the raw technology behind it remains very much the same as it did two hundred and thirty years ago.

If you’d like to make your maiden balloon voyage visit our website or call us on 01952 212750 to book your flight today.