The hot air balloon was the first aircraft in which man rose above the earth, on November 21, 1783 in Paris, France.
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The modern hot air balloon resurgence, sparked by greatly improved fuel and heater technology, and the availability of high-tech envelope materials, began in the early 1960's.
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The following are some articles by CLAS member Jim Ellis on the history and traditions of hot air ballooning :

Some Traditions of Hot Air Ballooning
Who is Silas Brooks?
Who is Ed Yost?

Next:  General ballooning information