In the 21st century - the age of the budget airline - where quick and reliable air travel is available to a large segment of society, it seems hard to comprehend that it is less than 250 years since the first human took to the skies. Although the wing of the bird seemed like the most obvious natural mechanism to attempt replicate, it was actually contained hot air, as demonstrated by the Montgolfiers and their balloon, that gave birth to the era human aviation. Since the first manned balloon flight in 1783, developments have come thick and fast, the airship, the aeroplane, and finally the space shuttle. This reprint of a classic publication by W. de Fonvielle, from 1877, gives a fascinating insight into the early history of ballooning. Complete with a brand new introduction and containing chapters such as 'Montgolfier's First Attempt', 'Science and Balloons', and 'First Company of Military Balloonists', it is a wonderful work for anyone with an interest in the lighter-than-air period of aeronautics.