Thomas Forenz






Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


Lift has been generated thermally in aerostats for 219 years making this the most enduring form of lift generation in lighter-than-air aviation. In the United States over 3000 thermally lifted aerostats, commonly referred to as hot air balloons, were built and flown by an estimated 12,000 licensed balloon pilots in the last decade. The evolution of controlling fire in hot air balloons during the first century of ballooning is the subject of this article. The purpose of this assessment is to separate the development of thermally lifted aerostats from the general history of aerostatics which includes all gas balloons such as hydrogen and helium lifted balloons as well as thermally lifted balloons. Through this separation the unique developmental lineage of thermally lifted balloons is established with its own set of participants. Some of aerostatics' most famous names in history such as Blanchard, Lowe, and Lunardi will notably be missing owing to their involvement in hydrogen ballooning and their lacking any significant contribution to thermal lift balloon development. The main source for the information contained herein was the literature on the subject supplemented by a review of the patents involved. This study clearly revealed advances on the first manned aircraft as designed by the Montgolfiere brothers and credits the individuals responsible. It furthermore distinguishes the developmental history of thermally lifted aerostats from gas lifted aerostats.





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