Up, Up, and Away!
The oldest and most basic flight mechanism in human history, hot-air balloons first appeared as toys in China in the third century. Nearly 1,500 years later, in September 1783, brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier launched a hot-air balloon carrying three passengers: a rooster, a duck, and a sheep. The eight-minute flight proved that animals could survive the skies and land safely, and later that year a pair of French scientists followed. Today, festivals across the country honor, celebrate, and preserve the tradition of hot-air ballooning.
(Editor's note: This story has been revised since publication.)