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The Montgolfier Brothers
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Inventor
    Born in Annonay, France
    Joseph-Michael Montgolfier (August 26, 1740-June 26, 1810)
    Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier (January 6, 1745-August 2, 1799)
    Inventors of the hot-air balloon (1782)
    They never realized that their balloons rose because the hot air was less dense than surrounding air.
    Instead, they thought the smoke contained a special gas, which they dubbed 'Montgolfier gas.'
    Since they thought the denser the smoke, the greater the lift, they burned wool, straw and old shoes to power their balloons.
    They lost control of their first unmanned test balloon, which was destroyed by a crowd after it landed.
    When their balloon was demonstrated for King Louis XVI, Joseph stayed home due to his unkempt appearance and shyness.
    In a short time, hot air balloons were eclipsed by hydrogen balloons.
    They ran the family paper firm so well, the French government held it up as a model for other papermakers.
    Barely a year passed between the brothers' first experiments over the fireplace and the first manned flight in a hot-air balloon.
    In recognition of their achievements, their father was elevated to the nobility by Louis XVI.

Credit: C. Fishel


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