A balloon made of paper and cloth, 10 m in diameter made its first journey up in air. The balloon was inflated with the heat from burning straw, wool and dried horse manure underneath the balloon. And who do you think were the first passengers? A sheep, a duck and a rooster! The balloon floated as long as the heat lasted. It traveled about 8 minutes before landing safely on the ground with the three animals.
This innovative attempt was made by two paper manufacturers, Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier who had set their minds to create a vehicle that would fly. Having successfully achieved one flight with animals, they sought permission from the then King of France, King Louis XVI to show their invention to one and all. Only this time two humans from the court of the King manned the flight. On the 21st of November, 1783, a hot air balloon was launched in Paris which rose 500 feet and finally landing in the vineyards nearby. One of the persons on this balloon, was Pilatre de Rozier, from whose name the word “pilot” is derived.
Since then, hot air ballooning has come a long way. Today, small balloons containing sensitive instruments are regularly launched and followed using tracking instruments to gather information from Earth's atmosphere. These balloons no longer use heat though. They are filled with light gas such as helium.