Balloon Ascension Day

At 10 a.m. on the morning of January 9, 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard made the first aerial trip in a yellow hot air balloon.

Blanchard, famous French aeronaut, had filled his balloon with hydrogen and sold tickets for $5 for the take off. Our first president, General George Washington and French dignitaries arrived minutes before the take off to witness this amazing feat.
Blanchard had taken to the skies in hydrogen powered balloons 44 times in Europe. This adventurer decided that he would be the first to perform this feat in the New World.

Blanchard insisted on taking the hot air balloon journey alone. He didn't even want anyone to accompany him on the ground aboard wagons. His ascent into the sky was perpendicular at first, enabling him to see the various expressions of astonishment on spectators' faces . It was a perfect day for flight. His balloon continued to float with southeasterly winds while climbing 5,800 feet in the air. Blanchard conducted experiments and recorded them in his journal.

Blanchard landed 46 minutes later in Woodbury, N.J. some 15 miles southeast of Philadelphia. He was greeted by a couple of astounded farmers. His first problem immediately presented itself: how was he going to get back to Philadelphia? His second problem lay in the fact that he spoke very little English.

Somehow, Blanchard communicated with one of the farmers by showing them President Washington's signature and seal on the document he brought with him. The farmers helped him carefully fold and stow his hot air balloon on a wagon. They arrived in Philadelphia at 7 o'clock that evening.