1783 The first manned hot-air balloon flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, marquis d’Arlandes, traveling from the Château de la Muette across the Bois de Boulogne on the edge of Paris in a balloon made by Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier.
Ballooning began in 1783 with the flight of the Montgolfier brothers’ balloons in France, but the earliest uses were scientific and military. Sport ballooning began in earnest in 1906, when the American publisher James Gordon Bennett offered an international trophy for annual long-distance flights, won permanently by Belgians with victories in 1922–24. Belgium then offered the trophy until it was discontinued in 1939. Initially the sport, like international yachting, was a rich man’s pastime.