In the two hundred plus years since then, hot air ballooning remains every bit as graceful and fascinating. There have been a number of different deigns in recent years, particularly novelty shapes depicting everything from famous sporting mascots to symbols of major corporate brands in what has to be one of the best possible advertisements for a business as thousands of people watch the company logo soar over the skies of entire cities.
The classic hot air balloon design is still the most recognised and beautiful of all balloon shapes. Its colourful outside material is technically known as the 'envelope' which is able to contain heated air to become powerful enough to carry a wicker basket with passengers underneath. Once inside the envelope, the hot air is resilient enough to carry it along as the heat has a lower density than the relatively cold air on the outside. A modern envelope is most often constructed with nylon fabric and the area around the naked flame which generates the necessary heat is made of a fire resistant material such as Nomex.
For many years a flight around the world was a dream of hot air balloon enthusiasts, and after many failed attempts it finally became a reality in 1999 when Betrand Piccard and Brian Jones achieved the accolade. The first solo flight was conducted three years later by Steve Fossett.
Envelopes come in many different sizes. The smallest kind hot air balloon is known as a 'Hopper balloon' which doesn't even include a basket as the sole passenger is the driver who is instead strapped into a harness for their safety. However, most commercial hot air balloons are designed to carry 3 to 5 people, although a larger hot air balloon is used to carry larger groups of people for commercial tourism purposes. Hot air balloon events have become an international fascination attracting interest from all over the world and many of the most prestigious balloon festivals take place in the UK, most notably the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
Looking out over the horizon from the basket of a hot air balloon is one of the most thrilling experiences you will ever know. But you don't have to wait for a festival to take place for an opportunity to take part; you can be part of one of the amazing flights being organised right now by Treatme.net.