As balloonists, we are always proud to remind people that hot air balloons were man’s first taste of flight.
Everything else followed: airships, gliders, aeroplanes, helicopters, and even the space shuttle!
Just as in space travel, the earliest balloon passengers were not even human, but were three farmyard animals – a sheep, a duck and a rooster! Centuries later, in the decades of the space race, the Russians and Americans used similar tactics, sending dogs and chimpanzees to test the possibilities of safe space flight for humans. Some things never change, it would seem!
The First ‘Passenger’ Flight In 1783
The reactions of the famous sheep, duck and rooster are not recorded, but they clearly survived the experience which took place on the 19th of September 1783. I love to imagine the double-take of locals as this balloon descended from the sky, landed, and then three farmyard animals casually hopped out!