Balloon Ascension Day is an annual celebration observed on January 9 to commemorate the first manned balloon flight to ever take place in America. The first balloon ascension event was witnessed by President George Washington, who was a patron of aviation pioneers. He was fascinated by the tales of the Frenchman who pioneered hot air ballooning and was keen to help him do so in America. This assisted the balloonist, who did not speak English, greatly when he landed on American soil with a letter from Washington explaining his mission.
History of Balloon Ascension Day
Balloon Ascension Day is an annual celebration established to honor the brilliant work of Jean-Paul Blanchard. He was the French aeronaut and inventor who, in 1793, made the first manned balloon trip in America. He is generally regarded as the inventor of balloon flight. Balloon Ascension Day was initiated on the same date he took to the sky in 1793, January 9.
During the first manned balloon trip in America, Blanchard stood opposite the Walnut Street Prison located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A relatively large number of people, including the President of the United States, George Washington, watched him mount and fly his hydrogen-filled gas balloon 200 fathoms or 1,200 Feet over the earth. Every year since 2011, the day has been observed to commemorate the first manned balloon flight in the United States and also encourage participation and foster interest in the field of aeronautics.
According to historical records, during his flight in a balloon in 1793, there were not a lot of ways for Blanchard to steer his balloon, so his trip only lasted 46 minutes. A gust from the breeze swept him away to land on a farm, where he had to convince local farmers to help him get back to Philadelphia.
This is not only considered America’s first aerial voyage, it is known to have also helped solidify the United States’ reputation as a country for innovative and great technological advances. On National Balloon Ascension Days, we are expected to go out and conquer our fears of traveling in a hot air balloon. We can take beautiful selfies for social media or watch other people mount and have their first experience flying in a hot air balloon.
Balloon Ascension Day timeline
Brothers Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Ètienne Montgolfier launch their Montgolfier balloon in France.
Jean-Paul Blanchard dies In 1808, after falling from his balloon above The Hague.
Vijaypat Singhania has the record for the highest flight altitude ever recorded for a balloon flight — 69,850 feet above the earth.
After initially failing to flee from the East to the West in a self-built hot-air balloon, two families make a second attempt, while the East German State Police chase them.
Balloon Ascension Day FAQs
What is the best time to launch a hot air balloon and why?
For hot air balloons, early morning provides the best chances of good weather; it allows for cooler temperatures and the spectacular view that comes with watching the rise of the morning sun.
What is it like to fly in a hot air balloon?
A flight in a balloon is calm and serene. Since flights usually occur at dawn in calm weather, the experience of flying into the sunrise is one of nature’s richest experiences.
How old do you have to be to go hot air ballooning?
Hot air ballooning is a gentle experience that is suitable for all from age five years and up.
Balloon Ascension Day Activities
Ride a hot air balloon
One good way to celebrate Balloon Ascension Day is to fly in a hot air balloon. Take a trip above the ground and gaze down on the earth from several feet above. Feel a heightened sense of connection to nature and enjoy its wind, birds, sun, and everything in between.
Witness the flight of hot air balloons
Another good thing to do to celebrate Balloon Ascension Day is to witness hot air balloons take to the sky! Watch the synchrony of their ascension and the painting of the sky in their color.
Share selfies online
What better way to celebrate the day than to share colorful pictures of your trip on a hot air balloon? On Balloon Ascension Day, paint the screen of friends, family, and acquaintances online with the selfies of your trip on an ascending balloon. Use #BalloonAscensionDay and #HotAirBalloon.
5 Things You Should Know About Hot Air Balloons
French aeronaut flew over Philadelphia Prison
The French aeronaut, Jean Pierre Blanchard’s balloon, flew over Walnut Street Prison in Philadelphia.
It’s anchored by its engine
Hot air balloons are also called blimps, and their engine is responsible for giving them directional flight and speed.
There have been several tragic incidents
There have been several incidents involving hot air balloons, including in the tragedy of Hindenburg, where over a third of the 97 passengers died when the balloon caught fire.
It’s a weather research tool
Hot air balloons are sometimes used as a scientific tool for weather and other research.
Stunts from balloon to balloon
People have undertaken tightrope walks between two hot air balloons in mid-flight.
Why We Love Balloon Ascension Day
The thrill gets us
We love the thrill of seeing larger-than-life balloons take to the sky! Balloon Ascension Day reminds us of all our adventurous childhood dreams and desires, and may even inspire us to fulfill them.
It piques our interest in science
Balloon Ascension Day serves as the perfect time to indulge our physics knowledge to solve burning questions around how a big balloon could fly above the earth!
The beautiful colors enthrall us
Nothing feels more thrilling than witnessing the colors of ascending hot air balloons in the sky. The designs, shapes, and patterns are as thrilling as a carnival.
Balloon Ascension Day dates