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The first flying machine - the hot air balloon

Human flight turns 222 years old on Monday. The hot air balloon was the first sustainable form of flight, with the first passengers, (a sheep, duck, and rooster) taking to the skies on September 19, 1783 and the first humans breaking the shackles of gravity on November 21,1783 were Pilatre de Rozier, who was also to become the first man killed in an ballooning accident, and infantry officer Marquis d'Arlandes. The flight took place in the centre of Paris lasted 25 minutes and covered a little more than five miles and the balloon was built of paper and silk by the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Ettienne. The Montgolfiers were well-educated paper merchants who had read the work of English scientist Joseph Priestly on the properties of air and had the skills to adapt the available technologies  Read More

The modern hot air balloon

Ballooning went mainstream in 1960 when the Raven prototype ‘modern’ hot-air balloon demonstrated that man had finally found a cost-efficient, lightweight material for the balloon envelope in the form of polyurethane coated nylon, with the burner powered by cylinders of propane. The first U.S. national championships followed in 1963 and further advances to material technology and LPG burners have seen the sport evolve into a substantial tourism industry with more than 5000 registered balloon pilots in the United States and a larger number in Europe. Every major city in the world offers balloon flights to tourists and if it is something you have never done, we thoroughly recommend it. There's no noise (at least most of the time when the burners aren't firing) to get between you and the environment of the birds, and a remarkable platform from which to survey almost anything, let alone something as complex as a real-life city. The following photographic essay was taken yesterday over Melbourne, Australia in a Hot Air Balloon using a Sony DCS-F707 Cybershot 5 megapixel 5x optical zoom camera and a Kodak Easyshare P850 5 megapixel 12x optical zoom camera.  Read More

Skydiving becomes Skyflying

While down is usually the direction that most matters when jumping from a plane at altitude, the Skyray attachable rigid-wing system promises to add airplane-like agility to skydiving.  Read More

Powered parachuting on a recumbent bike

It not exactly what Spielberg's ET had in mind, but it's as close as you can get to a flying bicycle without extra-terrestrial intervention. The Para-Cycle is a semi-reclined, 3-wheel recumbent bicycle combined with a powered parachute...  Read More

Human Powered Flight

It's a dream shared by anyone who has ridden a bicycle up a steep hill - human powered flight. NASA achieved this feat as part of the Daedalus project over a decade ago with the Light Eagle and Daedalus aircraft flying record breaking distances of 59km and 199km respectively. Designed and constructed by a group of students, professors, and alumni of the MIT, the goal was aircraft fly 115km (the distance that Daedalus is said to have flown when he escaped from King Minos on wings made from wax and feathers) and provide research data for the design and manufacture other high-altitude, long endurance aircraft.  Read More

Aero Chute - the cheapest form of flight available

Human flight has never been more attainable than with the Australian-designed Aerochute - the powered parachute needs less than 15 metres to become airborne, can top 70kmh and the average person can be flying solo after just a few hours of tuition. Most importantly, it is very safe to fly, being close to stall and spin proof, and should the engine stop, it simply lands like a parachute. The Aerochute DUO doesn't have a traditional fixed wing, so flying can only take place when the weather conditions are suitable. If the wind gets above 15 knots, the Aerochute can't fly, which is entirely understandable once you've seen a powered-parachute take-off.  Read More

Mercedes (concept) Flying Car

In the recently released sequel to "Men in Black" (MIB II), agent Kay and agent Jay cruise the alien beat in a black 2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan that not only provides a stylish ride but transforms into a space car to help hunt down the villains...  Read More

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