No one knew what it might become.
It was a new thing, this hot-air ballooning. People from all over,
inventing a whole new sport - a whole new way of flying, with roots in mankind's earliest
ventures into the skies. Balloons were smaller, cruder - burners less powerful than we know them now,
and while ballooning was a business for many, it was far from "commercial" in the sense
it is today. The history of hot-air ballooning is an esoteric subject, perhaps, but it
contains the ingredients of any great story: adversity overcome with ingenuity. Daring. Innovation.
Heroes made and lost. Flight has never come easily to humans, but that's good. We're at our best
when things don't come easily.
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To my chagrin, I have become too busy to maintain this site as regularly as I would like to, but I have a lot of material that I intend to put online. So I have decided at least to show the images here, before I get a chance to crop them, give them proper attribution and work them into their respective pages.
to display photos below. For a full-screen version of this gallery, click here.
A word about this site: I didn't create this site because I'm some kind of expert - I'm not. I created this site because (to my knowledge) no one else had. I am actively seeking correction of my information, and attribution for the images here. I used to request here that you send me pictures of old balloons (or, ideally, clear shots showing the parts of old balloons), but I am forced to modify that request a little, because I am so much busier than I was when I started the site. People have sent me wonderful photos, facts, corrections, etc. that have gone months or even years without getting on the site, and I feel a bit guilty about it. I'm still happy to receive content, but only if you understand it might not be shared in a timely fashion. I still have a "Requests" page to give an idea what I'm especially looking for, but it's pretty outdated, and I may take it down entirely. I cannot (generally) pay for content, but I do promise to return photos and other printed materials, at my own expense, unless you specify that you don't need them back (in which case, THANK YOU!!). Anything I do receive that you want returned, I will scan promptly and return to you, though I might not get it on the site any time soon. I am displaying some photos from old books and magazines. Because of their age (and because of the legal right of "fair use"), I make them available, and will gladly remove whatever I'm asked to remove. If you see a picture to which you own the rights, and you don't want it here (or want attribution posted), please let me know! I'd like to have as many photos as possible duly credited, and used with permission.
The author, age 5, next to a Semco basket
during the 1973 World Championships
The most important thing to know about "The Early Years of Sport Ballooning" is that much of the
content here is provided through the generous assistance of visitors in
contributing images and information. The fact that much of this site's
content is submitted by visitors means that it's your site. I'm eager to know how it can be
improved, and what people really want to see. I read and respond to each and every e-mail - if you've
got opinions on what you do, or would like to, see here, why not
let me know? A great many visitors have
written me in the time this site's been here to say that they're delighted with the memories I've been
able to share. Thank you on behalf of myself; the thanks of many others, I pass along to you.As for who I am,
I am an early-40s father of two from
Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have
been a balloon nut since the 1973 World Championships, which I had the
pleasure of attending at the impressionable age of five. In the year since word of this
site began to get out, I've been simply overwhelmed by the kindness,
encouragement and generosity displayed by the pilots, crew, builders
and enthusiasts who have taken the time to look around here and write
me. I am grateful for every e-mail
that's been written, every image that's been sent, and every new friend
I've made. This site has
been immensely rewarding, and even though I don't have a fraction of the time to work on it that I had
when I started it, I'm in it for the long haul. I'm doing it for many reasons, but mostly out of
gratitude to the ballooning community for many years of beautiful skies.
This site has been immensely rewarding, and even though I don't have a fraction of the time to work on it that I had when I started it, I'm in it for the long haul. I'm doing it for many reasons, but mostly out of gratitude to the ballooning community for many years of beautiful skies.