In 1782, two French brothers named Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier were sitting in front of a fire when they noticed ashes billowing upward, carried by the heated air.
They came to a startling conclusion. If the heated air could be captured in a large enough bag, it might be strong enough to carry a person. On June 4, 1783, the brothers lit a pile of straw and wool beneath a ball made of linen lined boarded the basket beneath the balloon and were cut free from the earth.
The balloon climbed slowly, and at 300 feet the two men doffed their hats to the awed crowd watching them. Then the wind pulled them over Paris and they reached an altitude of 1,650 feet.
They watched in amazement as the people moved beneath them as tiny as insects. After 25 minutes, the trip ended, and they landed softly on the ground. For the first time in history, two men had successfully flown.