September 19, 1783 The Montgolfier brothers launched a duck, a sheep, and a rooster up into the air . . . While this might seem to be either something straight out of a Mother Goose tale or the setup for a bad joke, that is exactly what happened when aviation pioneers Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-... Continue Reading →

August 10, 1840 American aeronaut Louis Anselm Lauriat traveled in his hydrogen balloon Star of the East in the skies above the present-day Canadian province of New Brunswick. This excursion was the first piloted flight in Canada. At that time, New Brunswick was a British colony; in 1867, it became one of the four original... Continue Reading →

June 2, 1852 Eduard Spelterini, who would achieve widespread fame for his balloon ascents and the photographs that he took during those flights, was born in the village of Bazenheid in Switzerland. He developed a strong interest in travel via balloons after moving to Paris in the mid-1870s. In 1877, Spelterini was licensed as a... Continue Reading →

May 27, 1931 Auguste Piccard, a world-renowned physicist and inventor, and his fellow physicist Paul Kipfer achieved a record-setting balloon flight in which they became the first human beings to enter into the stratosphere. (The stratosphere is the second layer of Earth’s atmosphere; it is located above the troposphere and below the mesosphere.) Auguste Piccard... Continue Reading →

November 11, 1935 U.S. Army Air Corps Captains Albert W. Stevens and Orvil A. Anderson, traveling in the high-altitude helium balloon Explorer II, established a record altitude of 72,395 feet (22,066 meters) for manned balloons. This airborne journey took place in the skies above South Dakota. “Successful Flight into Stratosphere,” read the headline for an... Continue Reading →

June 4, 1784 A pioneering ascent of a hot-air balloon took place just outside the city of Lyon in southeastern France. This balloon was named the Gustave in honor of King Gustav III of Sweden. The king was visiting Lyon at that time, and he was among those on hand to watch the aircraft take... Continue Reading →

April 1, 1967 The recently created U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) formally began operations as the 12th federal cabinet department with a considerable amount of fun and fanfare on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Thousands gathered at that park in the nation’s capital for a celebration featuring a broad-based transportation theme and including music from... Continue Reading →

February 4, 1902 The first flights over Antarctica took place as part of a British exploration of that region of the world. The British National Antarctic Expedition, which was led by Royal Navy Captain Robert F. Scott, had departed from England in the wooden ship RRS Discovery in August 1901.  The ship crossed the Antarctic... Continue Reading →

January 7, 1785 The first-ever flight over the English Channel took place when French inventor and aviation pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American physician and scientist Dr. John Jeffries (at the time a British resident) traveled over that body of water in a gas balloon. The travel equipment on board the balloon included silk-covered oars for the... Continue Reading →

October 19, 1874 The first airborne wedding that is verifiable took place above the vicinity of Cincinnati, Ohio, in what one newspaper account characterized as “a matrimonial sensation.” Mary Elizabeth Walsh and Charles Samuel Colton exchanged vows in a hot-air balloon named “P.T. Barnum.” (Both the bride and groom worked for the legendary showman’s traveling circus.) ... Continue Reading →

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