Anyone who has ever been in a hot air balloon will tell you it is an incredible experience, especially if they have been on such a ride in a place that boasts a particularly majestic landscape. It may be hard for us to imagine nowadays, but there was a time, not quite so long ago, when humans had no idea how to go about getting up into the air and staying there in a way we take for granted today, via planes or helicopters. In those days, being able to fly, or even float, was a near-impossible goal that many strove to achieve, but only few succeeded. Jean Pierre Blanchard was one of those who succeeded, and January 9th is the day to remember his feat.
The History of Balloon Ascension Day
The very first Balloon Ascension Day was every bit as exciting as it sounds. A man named Jean Paul Blanchard, who was a French aeronaut and inventor, stood in front of Walnut Street Prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a spot that is now known as Independence Square, making some last-minute adjustments to his balloon, while a sizable crowd looked on. Blachard had been preparing for this for a while, and he had sold plenty of tickets to people excited to see him ascend into the sky in his hydrogen-filled gas balloon. In fact, Blachard was so good at creating a buzz about his project that it is thought that most of the entire capital city’s population had come to the prison courtyard to watch, and a great many from the surrounding countryside as well. In fact, the president of the Unite States, George Washington himself, was also present.
Some of the onlookers tried to convince Blachard to let them go with him, but he refused, determined to be the first person to ever ascend into the air in the New World. And then…up he went, reaching an altitude of 200 fathoms during the course of his flight. He monitored his pulse during the entirety of the trip, finally coming down gently in the field of a confused farmer who helped him get back. And so, on January 9th, 1793, the first balloon flight ever to take place in North America was declared a success, and balloon travel became more popular.
How to Celebrate Balloon Ascension Day
In short, if you have never taken a hot air balloon flight, this would be the perfect time to do so in honor of this successful inventor. If it is too chilly where you live to make this possible or pleasurable at this particular time of year, you could make arrangements to go for such a trip when the weather gets better.
Alternately, if you happen to be on vacation then, you could take a hot air balloon flight to get a really good look at the area. The world’s best hot air balloon adventures are said to be organized in places like Serengeti National Park (Tanzania), Napa Valley (California), Cappadocia (Turkey), Gstaad (Switzerland), Istria (Croatia), and Yarra Valley (Australia).
Whatever location you choose, however, you are guaranteed an incredible view that you would not get any other way, and an incredible experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. And you’ll finally understand what our ancestors were so excited about!