The Montgolfier Brothers invented the first hot-air balloon and made their first flight. This unmanned flight was witnessed by King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
The Montgolfier Brothers conduct their first manned flight. It is witnessed by Benjamin Franklin, the United States Ambassador to France at the time, who was quoted as saying about it "What good is a new-born baby?"
Within a year the hot-air-balloon was replaced by the invention of the gas balloon and the hot-air-balloon basically vanished from the skies for 177 years.
Modern materials such as high temperature nylon fabric and lightweight aluminum propane tanks made is possible to build a modern hot air balloon.
Four balloonists are considered "The Founders of Modern Hot Air Balloons." Ed Yost of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Don Piccard of St. Paul, Minnesota, Mark Semich of Griffin, Georgia, and Tracy Barnes of Statesville, North Carolina, each started manufacturing balloons that took advantage of these new technologies.
Within 20 years, more than 5,000 balloons filled the skies worldwide.
Tracy Barnes began his path to Statesville. He moved from St. Paul Minnesota, to Chester, South Carolina in 1963, to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968, and finally to Statesville, North Carolina in 1973. Along the way he designed and created the FireFly Balloon. The FireFly turned out to be one of the most beautiful and innovative balloon designs ever produced.
Two other balloonists, Bill Meadows and Don Cline, worked with and supported Tracy for 50 years. Together, they had an idea...
The Carolina Balloon Museum is founded by Bill Meadows and Don Cline. Planning begins for its home in Statesville, North Carolina.
Becoming a member is free and comes with lots of perks.
We'll keep you up to date on the progress of the museum, and tell you about special events.
You can indicate your interest in volunteering and find a place in our team.
Pilots and Crew can share their information and stories on our website.