On June 4, 1783, Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and his brother Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier completed the first public demonstration of a hot air balloon in order to claim their invention. Their prototype, which flew for approximately 10 minutes and traveled 1.2 miles at altitudes above 5,000 feet, finally made air travel for humans a possibility, though many were still skeptical of both the practicality and safety of hot air balloons.
How posterity will laugh at us, one way or other! If half a dozen break their necks, and balloonism is exploded, we shall be called fools for having imagined it could be brought to use: if it should be turned to account, we shall be ridiculed for having doubted.
— Horace Walpole, letter to Horace Mann, 24 June 1785
To celebrate, we’re giving away audiobooks! The winner of our contest (see rules below) will receive one copy each on CD of:
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
Also enjoy these free lesson plans to use with either of these titles or just to celebrate this day in history! The lessons include 5 activities that can be used across grade levels.
The best way of travel, however, if you aren’t in any hurry at all, if you don’t care where you are going, if you don’t like to use your legs, if you don’t want to be annoyed at all by any choice of directions, is in a balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely to nature.
— William Pène du Bois, The Twenty-one Balloons
- Just leave a comment below (be sure to enter a valid email address, or we won’t be able to contact you if you win!) and you’ll be entered to win.
- Tweet (we’re @recordedbooks) or blog about the contest and you can leave a second comment linking to your tweet or post—you’ll get another contest entry. Spread the word!
- Again, be sure you leave a valid email address with your comment so we can contact you. If you’re picked as a winner and we can’t contact you, the prize will got to the next winner.
- Comments will be assigned a number (first commenter is #1, second is #2, etc). Winners will be picked by random.org according to comment number.
- Drawing will be held on 6/12/09 at 12:00PM Eastern time. Winners will be contacted by email to get mailing information. The winner will receive one copy of each of the following titles on CD: Around the World in 80 Days, The Twenty-One Balloons.