Michigan’s Fascination With Hot Air Balloons, Early 1900s
Have you ever been up in a hot air balloon?
Not me, Jack.
I'm not goin' up in one of those things.
It's cold up there, there's not much holding you in, and what's to stop the thing from malfunctioning and crashing to earth? I've actually seen that happen, right in my own back yard. A hot air balloon was descending the field out back, couldn't control itself, and crashed into the trees.
Oh, yeah...I'm goin' up in one REAL soon.
But to be fair, there are thousands of Michiganders who love it and go ballooning every year. There are quite a few balloon ride agencies throughout the state, with an average cost of around $800 per couple for a private flight. Otherwise, it's roughly $200-$300 per person.
The very first flight with humans took place on October 19, 1783 in France. In 1960, Ed Yost built the first modern hot air balloon in Nebraska. So how did it come to be so popular in Michigan?
In 1963, with hot air ballooning at peak popularity throughout the country, it was here in Michigan that the first U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship was held.....in Kalamazoo, to be exact. Now you see hot air balloons floating around all through the state.
Even so, hot air balloons were a thing of wonderment in America, well over 100 years ago and back into the 1800s. Before it became a sport, or even a widespread novelty, customers at amusement parks and fairs could have a souvenir photo taken with a hot air balloon backdrop, making it look like they were up taking a ride.
The gallery below shows some actual hot air ballooners in Michigan, and some of those souvenir photos, going back to the early 1900s!
Hot Air Ballooning, Early 1900s
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