AN HISTORIC milestone will be celebrated at this year’s Hot Air Balloon Festival at Llangollen – the 225th anniversary of the first manned flight.
French brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier first launched their curious contraption back in 1783.
Now festival organiser David Green is planning to mark the occasion with an exhibition at the event at the Royal International Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31.
David and Andy Marshall, of Lindstrand Balloons, got in the mood by donning 18th century outfits as they prepared to take to the skies above Llangollen.
David said: “In 1783 it was an incredibly brave thing to do although the Montgolfier brothers didn’t actually go in the balloon themselves. They got two volunteers to go up.”
The two were a 29-year-old science teacher, Pilatre De Rozier and an aristocratic army officer, the Marquis D’Arlandes.
But, in fact, the first living things to go up were a sheep, a duck and a rooster, in September 1783 in front of an audience at Versailles which included King Louis and his doomed queen, Marie-Antoinette.
Andy Marshall, who will be in charge of the UK’s only indoor model hot air balloon show at the festival, is Lindstrand’s ballooning history expert.
He said: “The Montgolfier brothers actually believed it was the smoke that made the balloon rise because they had seen how the smoke from a fire rose.
“So they used all sorts of things that burned with a lot of smoke rather than things which generated a lot of heat but it worked.”
The Montgolfier balloon flew for 9kms at 3,000 ft.
De Rozier’s ballooning career didn’t last – he and a companion were killed two years later trying to cross the English Channel.
For further information about the balloon festival visit www.hotairballoonfestival.co.uk.