Saturday, January 9, 2021

Something About Balloon Ascension

Up, up and away with the humanity!

Since we talked about Lewis Barnavelt as a fat-positive role model recently, the reference about Lewis’s Aunt Mattie calling him a “balloon ascension” in The Figure in the Shadows came to mind when I saw what we're celebrating today.

Yes, it's National Balloon Ascension Day, commemorating the first balloon flight in the United States in 1793.

French aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard flew over the Walnut Street Prison in Philadelphia above a large crowd on this date. He ascended in a hydrogen gas balloon and was witnessed by George Washington. Several varieties of balloons took shape over the next 100 years. By the 20th century, large airships with cabins carried passengers. Tragedies like the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937, where over a third of the 97 passengers perished when the airship caught fire helped to usher in a new era. Today, hot air ballooning is enjoyed from the ground and the air. It’s also a scientific tool for weather and other research.

All said, I still think "balloon ascension" is a terrible thing to say to a child.  Just a bunch of hot air, this Aunt Mattie.

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