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Catching Air

Word of the Week

Aerostat (air-oh-stat): A lighter-than-air aircraft that is filled with gas. It comes from the Greek words aer meaning "air" and statos meaning "standing."


Last week, I shared a little information with you about paper airplanes. When you think of taking flight, airplanes are usually the first place our brains go. But were airplanes the oldest form of air travel? Nope! Not even close. Airplanes intended for humans didn't exist until 1903. What I'm about to share with you has existed since 1793. You read that right! What could it be? Any guesses???

The hot air balloon! Wow! I find it amazing that something so beautiful and intricate has existed for SO many years. Saturday, June 5th is Hot Air Balloon Day!

In 1782, Joseph Montgolfier discovered that his shirt would float by holding it above a chimney fire. He and his brother soon realized that hot air made things float. . .that's where their idea for the hot air balloon originated!

So, how does it work now?

  • There are liquid propane tanks that are full of pressure placed at the bottom of the balloon's basket.

  • Hoses run from the bottom of each propane tank and up into a burner, below the balloon.

  • To make the balloon float up, the pilot turns the propane on, which flows to the burners and makes a small flame.

  • Steel coils heat up the liquid propane and turns the liquid into a hot gas.

  • Since hot air rises, this causes the balloon to rise up.

  • To keep the balloon in the air, the pilot needs to continue to "feed" the burners this propane.

  • When it's time to land, the pilot lets the balloon cool down. And down, and down, and down you float.

Now, how do we celebrate?! Wouldn't it be amazing if we could all celebrate this special day by hopping into a hot air balloon and taking a ride? Since we can't all do that, I have the perfect activity. Here's what you need. . .


- Cupcake liners (pick fun ones)

- Construction paper

- Yarn or ribbon

- Glue

- Scissors

- Pictures of your face!


It's pretty self explanatory when you see my picture of Mary and Mike floating away in their hot air balloons. Right? Lay everything out until you like it, and glue away!

Oh, and one more thing. Did you know hot air balloons typically fly 1,000- 3,000 feet high? BUT the highest one has ever gone was 68,000 feet? WOW!

Happy floating!


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