Hot air balloons work by providing a source of heat (often an open flame) beneath a bag called an "envelope." As the air in the envelope heats, it rises above the cooler air around it.

Photograph by Michelle Anderson, MyShot
  • On November 21, 1783, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes took the world’s first hot air balloon ride. They ascended about 152 meters (500 feet) and travelled 25 minutes, from central Paris to the suburbs, 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) away.
    Hot air balloons were the first opportunity for people to get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape. In 1858, aerial photographs taken from a hot air balloon were used to help plan and map the city of Paris. Hot air balloons were used to assess the damage of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Aerial photography is still used in mapmaking, land-use planning, and archaeology.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aerial photograph Noun

    picture of part of the Earth's surface, usually taken from an airplane.

    archaeology Noun

    study of human history, based on material remains.

    Encyclopedic Entry: archaeology
    ascend Verb

    to go up.

    assess Verb

    to evaluate or determine the amount of.

    damage Noun

    harm that reduces usefulness or value.

    earthquake Noun

    the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

    hot air balloon Noun

    bag filled with lighter-than-air gas able to float in the atmosphere.

    landscape Noun

    the geographic features of a region.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landscape
    opportunity Noun


    suburb Noun

    geographic area, mostly residential, just outside the borders of an urban area.