The first hot air balloon was launched in 1783 by a scientist named Pilatre De Rozier. Its passengers, a sheep, a duck, and a rooster maintained 15 minutes of air travel before the balloon crashed. Two months later, French brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier lifted off in the first ever manned air balloon; their flight lasted 20 minutes. Two years later, a French balloonist named Jean Pierre Blanchard and his American co pilot, John Jefferies, became the first to fly across the English Channel. Thus the bar was set in long distance air ballooning.
On more landmark achievements and ballooning history, check out this site: http://www.eballoon.org/history/history-of-ballooning.html
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