A sheep, a duck, and a rooster. No, not my collage--the first hot air balloon to carry passengers had these three barnyard animals onboard.
A 1783 Etching, on Paper, Showing the First Flight, with Passengers
This illustration may be found at the British Museum. The picture originally appeared in "European Magazine". Wikimedia states that image is in the public domain.
You'll be happy to hear that the three animals made it back to earth safely. The voyage lasted 10 minutes, and the balloon rose to a height of more than 5,000 feet. One report (perhaps apocryphal) suggests the only injury suffered was that endured by the rooster--after it was kicked by the sheep.
The animal passengers were a compromise. The King of France, Louis XVI, had wanted to send a couple of convicts instead. However, the Montgolfier brothers, who designed the balloon, demurred and sent three animals.
A few months after this flight, the first manned hot air balloon was launched. This balloon carried two men (not convicts!), traveled about 2 1/2 miles, and had a duration of about 25 minutes. The balloon reached an altitude of about 500 feet.
A Chromolithograph of the First Manned Hot Air Balloon Flight
This image was created sometime between 1890 and 1900, and is part of the U. S. Library of Congress exhibition, "Dream of Flight". Public domain
It wasn't long before a gas balloon (hydrogen) was sent aloft. The first flight, in August of 1783, was unmanned. In December of that year, the inventor of the balloon, Jacques Charles, took a flight with his colleague, Nicolas-Louis Robert.
1909 Postcard Illustration of First Manned Hydrogen Balloon
This image is in the public domain because of its age.
This flight lasted 2 1/2 hours. It is estimated the balloon traveled about 25 miles.
Sending animals aloft and floating over Paris briefly may be a curiosity, but there is little utility to such exercise. However, directing a balloon over the English Channel--that's transportation. This is exactly what happened on the 7th of January, 1785, when Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries crossed the English Channel in a hydrogen balloon.
Illustration of the First Successful Balloon Flight over the English Channel
This illustration may be found at the U.S. Library of Congress and is part of its exhibition, "The Dream of Flight". 1890-1900, public domain.
On this voyage, the balloon traveled from Dover, England to Calais, France. It is said the two men onboard struggled to reduce the weight they carried so that eventually Blanchard threw his trousers overboard.
This week @shaka offered us a most beautiful photo to work with.
I couldn't do anything ugly to that photo so I enlisted some fantasy creatures to inhabit the scene. Here's a list of the elements, and sources:
All the other elements: the dog, the mice, the surfboard, the beach house, the cups, the wings (on the giraffe) and two of the sheep--these came from Paint 3D. I used Gimp to create the GIF and some effects.
I've included a still frame from the GIF, because I think the animals are easier to see here.
Can you tell I had a lot of fun?