Author(s): Jean Becker
The sky has always exercised a great fascination over the human imagination: it is unreachable and transcedendent . Humans have always envied the aerial freedom that birds enjoy. Since the dawn of time, humans have looked up to the skies and attempted to conquer them, but the path proved to be long and hard. On November 12th, 1783, Jean- Francois Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis of Arlandes, both French, floated 330ft (100m) above the ground in a balloon put together by the Montgolfier brothers. They travelled for over 5 miles (8km) from the starting point. More than 200 years later, modern hot-air balloons are still magically part of our dreams. Thanks to new materials now used in balloon making, it is far less dangerous to go up in a hot air balloon today than it was in the 18th century. Popular ballooning events are held between France and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where each year almost 800 hot-air balloons colour the sky. From the Montgolfier brothers to the pilots of the future, from the epic exploits of Bertrand Piccard and Steve Fossett, who made the first around-the-world navigation in a revolutionary high-tech hot-air balloon, to the 'impossible' shapes of modern airships, this new volume illustrates the present of aerostatistics.
Jean Becker, a professional reporter, has written for the press on France's involvement in recent international conflicts. His personal passions are adventure and hot-air balloons. To his credit, among many other highlights, is his participation in the hot-air balloon expedition to Spitzbergen Island and the winter crossing of Norwegian Lapland. Becker is also a renowned navigator; he has recorded almost 2500 hours of hot-air balloon flight.