News | Balloon rides | Balloon advertising | Ballooning Guide | Archive | Gallery | ALTIUS


A Look into Latvian Ballooning History


June 25: The first hot air balloon flight demonstrated in Jelgava town by the local Peter's Academy student ERNESTS BINEMANIS. In the following year he experimented with hydrogen filled balloon models.


Mr. ROBERTSON who was born in Liege, Wallonia showed the advantages of ballooning to the citizens of Riga. First he launched two small balloons to determine the wind direction and then a bigger one with a rooster in the basket. When the balloon reached the tower of the St.Peter's Church, the rooster descended using a parachute. Finally Robertson himself tried to fly a balloon. He flew over Riga and landed 20 kilometres far from the city.


Near the towns of Jekabpils and Krustpils the first Latvian balloon pilot KARLIS SKAUBITIS had several flights. He flew a balloon up to 100-50 meters and didn't use a basket, but held on to a rope, which was tied around the balloon with a loop for placing his feet. Usually as a part of the performance he demonstrated jumping with a self-made parachute.

Many years have passed as the idea of the ballooning revives again in Latvia

Brief History of Ballooning of the World

Joseph and Jacques de Montgolfier developed the first hot air balloon in 1783.

On April 4, 1783 the Montgolfier brothers gave the first public demonstration of a hot air balloon in their hometown. This unmanned balloon travelled almost a mile (2km), and reached a height of about 6,560ft (2,000m). It was made of cloth and lined with paper (coated with alum to provide some form of fireproofing), its multiple sections held together by around 2,000 buttons.

First hydrogen balloon

Meanwhile, Jacques Charles, another Frenchman, was working on the first hydrogen balloon. Charles's invention made its maiden flight barely three weeks after the Montgolfier brothers had given their demonstration at Annonay. Made of rubberised silk, Charles's balloon was also unmanned.

On September 19 that same year, the Montgolfier brothers sent the first living creatures on a balloon flight: a sheep, a cockerel, and a duck made an eight-minute flight from Versailles, watched by Louis XVI.

Manned flight

The following month, Pilatre de Rozier, a physicist, reached an altitude of 85ft (26m) in a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon. On November 21, 1783 the first free balloon flight involving people was made: de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes made a 25-minute flight over Paris, travelling over 7 miles (12km) from the Chateau de la Muette.

On December 1, 1783 Jacques Charles and Nicolas Robert took the first flight in a hydrogen balloon. Setting off from the Tuileries gardens in Paris, they landed at Nesles-la-Vallee, over 15 miles (25km) away. Robert got out there, and Charles went up once more in the balloon, reaching an incredible altitude of over a mile (2km). Benjamin Franklin, the American diplomat and scientist, witnessed the flight.

Subsequent developments in ballooning were the work of other pioneers; what is amazing, however, is that it took barely a year for the Montgolfier brothers to proceed from tiny homemade models to the first successful manned balloon flight.

1898 Creation of the "Aero Club de France ", first aeronautical institution in the world.

1905 Creation in Paris of the FAI (International Aeronautical Federation) on the Aero Club de France's initiative. Today, around 100 countries belong to this federation.

1906 James Gordon Bennett, promoter of the "International Herald Tribune" entrusted on the Aero Club de France with the organization of the first international aeronautic cup. 16 crews from all over the world took off on September 30 from the Jardins des Tuileries in Paris. The American crew won this first race. The first international air race in the world, created in 1906

1912 The seventh cup was won for the first time by the French team after a 2200 km's long flight from Germany to Russia.

1983 Within the framework of the bicentenary of the first human flight, the Aero Club de France organizes the first Gordon Bennett since the Second World War. The balloons take off from the Place de la Concorde, in Paris, on June 26.

1984 - 1996 The race happened every year in different countries according to the rule demanding that the winner's country organizes the race the following year.

1997 The French team of the Leys brothers won the Gordon Bennett after a flight of 1732.5 km from Germany to Rumania.

1998 France organized the Gordon Bennett cup from Paris at the same time as "one hundred years of Aviation" and the International Year of the Air and Space of the Aero Club de France.