Sep 08 2007, 10:08 pm / Other
[[Warning: Danielle has become a little bit more than obsessed with the Reno Balloon Races; don't ask why, just go with it.]]
The first hot air balloon flown in the United States was launched from the Walnut Street Jail on January 9, 1793, by the French aeronaunt Jean Pierre Blanchard. Nearly every person in Philadelphia stopped what they were doing and watched as the yellow silk balloon carried him 5,800 feet in the air.
Blanchard performed several scientific experiments aloft, filling six bottles of air, taking his pulse, and making observations about the air pressure, temperature, and weather. If Benjamin Franklin had lived long enough (he died in 1790), he would have been thrilled with the event.
The wind blew Blanchard fifteen miles, across the Delaware River to New Jersey. Blanchard shared a bottle of wine with the farmer in whose field he landed, and showed the man his "passport," a letter of safe passage written by President George Washington.
A crowd soon gathered, and a wagon was found to transport Blanchard and his deflated balloon back across the river. He was greeted in Philadelphia by a cheering crowd. Blanchard's plans for a second flight in the city were ruined by the yellow fever epidemic.