Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hot Air Balloons in the History of Aviation

The next step in the history of aviation was the experiments in hot air balloons. In 1766 a chemist Henry Cavendish discovered that hydrogen was lighter than air which started a series of experiments to explore the possibility of lighter than air flight using hydrogen. The French pioneers, Charles and the Robert brothers conducted a series of successful experiments with hydrogen filled balloons.

The first successful balloon flight has been credited to Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier on 5th June, 1783 at Annonay, about 40 miles from Lyons in France. The brothers who were paper makers by trade, filled a linen bag with smoke and vapour from a fire of wood and straw. The balloon soared to a great height and descended over a mile away. Later that year J.A.C. Charles, a physicist, with the two Robert brothers successfully launched a silk balloon filled with hydrogen gas which flew for 15 miles and landed in the midst of terrified peasants in Paris. Hot air balloons came to be known as ‘Montgolfieres’ and the hydrogen filled balloons were ‘Charlieres’.
Joseph Montgolfier and his balloon can be seen on the 15r stamp in Liechtenstein’s 1948 air stamps and Charles’s balloon appears on a Latvian 15-75s air stamp of 1932. 1983 saw a spate of stamps issued to commemorate the second centenary of the first ever manned flight of the Montgolfier brothers.

However, the world’s first aeronaut was Jean Pilatre de Rozier of Metz who is portrayed on a 75c stamp issued by France in 1936. He made several ascents in a hot air balloon during October 1783. On 21st November he, accompanied by the Marquis d’Arlandes, made a flight of about 5 miles from the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, in an elaborately pained and decorated ‘Montgolfiere’. 10 days later Charles and one of the Robert brothers flew 25 miles from Paris to Nesle in a ‘Charliere’.


The second centenary of the first manned Hot Air Balloon flight was commemorated by a number of countries.

A set of stamps issued by Hungary in 1983:


Sunday, November 23, 2008


We are proud and estactic grandparents of a second grand daughter. Mackenzie Ivy Buchanan was born today 23rd November, 2008 at 3.37pm Melbourne time. Incidentally this was a first anniversary gift to her parents Nicole & Andrew as today is their first wedding anniversary.

All my plans to have covers postmarked on the day of birth have been dashed as its a Sunday and a postal holiday. Will have to be satisfied with the next day covers.

From Australia - here are two balloon flight mails.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Birth Date covers

I have not updated this blog for sometime for various reasons. Hope to start updating on a regular basis. I am at present in Australia awaiting the arrival of our second grandchild expected within the week. I plan to have a unique philatelic commemoration of the event with "Birth date" covers - covers postmarked at the Kangaroo Ground, VIC 3097, Australia post office on the day of the child's birth. Wound'nt that be a terrific keepsake for the child? Who among us can boast of having a cover postmarked on the day of our birth? I might try to get stamps issued in November, 2008 from around the world - that would be a big project!!

Well, my wife Avita has this unique distinction. I have a cover postmarked at Bahrain on the day of her birth. I acquired this cover around 1966-67 as far as I can remember. When I met my wife in 1969 and we were dating I asked for her date of birth and somehow this struck a memory chord and checked my collection and found this cover. So I told her you come into my life long before I actually met you in person!!

Here's the cover:

Bahrain was under Indian Postal Administration till about 1948 - hence Indian stamps were overprinted 'BAHRAIN' for use. British Postal Administration took over from 1948 to 1960 and Great Britain stamps were overprinted BAHRAIN with Indian currency. Bahrain issued its own stamps on 1st July, 1960 with stamps depicting Sheik Sulman bin Hamad Al Khalifah. However, Bahrain stamps portraying the same Sheikh where issued for local use from 1953-57 and again in 1961.