1. ITV Report

7 strange facts about hot air balloons

  1. Hot air balloons were invented in France in the 1700s - and the first passengers in a hot air balloon were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The scientists behind the experiment chose a sheep because it was thought the sheep would closely simulate the effect a human would have on the balloon; being similar in weight. The first flight was tethered, and lasted around 8 minutes.

  2. Tradition dictates that when a hot air balloon lands, champagne is shared. It's said this tradition comes from the early pilots - in an attempt to quell the fears of farmers, who thought the descending balloons were dragons, ready to land in their fields. The pilots would offer the champagne as a gift for the intrusion.

  3. Rain can boil on the top of a hot air balloon. Hence the reason that they can't fly in the rain. When the droplets hit the balloon, the temperature inside brings the rain to boiling point and ruins the balloon fabric.

  4. Two men fought a duel in hot air balloons in 1808. Described as a "very novel species of duel", Monsieur Le Pique, and his rival Monsieur de Grandpré fought for the affections of a "mutual aquaintance" in their hot air balloons. Each man was armed with a pistol, and the winner would be the first to shoot the other out of the air. Le Pique fired first, but missed, allowing his opponent to take aim and shoot him out of the sky, killing him as his balloon crashed.

  5. The singer Newton Faulkner once played a gig in a hot air balloon above the Swiss Alps. The event was for a UK radio station.

  6. The first man to fly in a hot air balloon was also the first man to die in one. Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier was the first person to die in a crash, just two years after he took the first successful flight in human history. His balloon exploded while he was attempting to cross the English Channel.

  7. The highest ever hot air balloon flight was recorded in 2005 at a height of 21,027m by Dr Vijaypat Singhania. That's 13 miles. Or 4,800 double decker buses.

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