Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, the marquis d’ Arlandes, flew in a untethered hot air balloon over Paris for 20 minutes on this date in 1783. The balloon was made of silk and paper and was constructed by Jacques Étienne and Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, who first took notice that smoke (i.e., hot air) would cause a bag to rise. The Montgolfiers experimented with paper bags before sending a balloon aloft with a sheep, a rooster and a duck on September 19, 1783. De Rozier went up in a tethered balloon on October 15th.
But 229 years ago today, November 21, 1783, is — so far as we know — the date man first flew, untethered to the earth.
The winds have welcomed you with softness,
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands
You have flown so high and so free,
That God has joined you in laughter,
And set you gently again,
Into the loving arms of mother earth.
The Balloonists Prayer