Kites and balloons were the first inventions that allowed man to fly. Both were invented long before the airplane, and both the kite and the hot air balloon were invented in ancient China. Although the first recorded manned flight of a hot air balloon did not occur until the 1700s in Europe, the Chinese had discovered the basic principle that hot air rises centuries before.
The first hot air balloons were developed in the China during 3rd century B.C. The Kongming Lantern, was first used as a signalling device for military operations, but later became popular as a children's toy at carnivals. The chinese lantern is still used at festivals in China and other parts of Asia.
The Kongming lantern employs the same basic principal as a large hot air balloon: a heat source (usually a candle) is suspended below a large sack-like container and the heat from the flame causes the air within the balloon to heat, and the balloon to rise. Traditionally, these mini hot air balloons are contructed from oiled rice papre.
These hot air balloons can rise to considerable heights and can travel great distances if there is a wind. Because of the flammable nature of this device, great caution should be exercised, and this type of flying toy is not recommended by this site.
Foturnately modern technology has come up with safer ways to create and fly your own mini hot air ballon. One way is to inflate the balloon with the air from a hair dryer. This way there is no danger from an open flame. However, there is still danger of fire or burns resulting from the operation of a hair dryer and so this should never be attempted by a child without supervision, or without first reading and following the instruction that come with the products below. Our lawyer made us say that!