National Balloon Ascension Day

National Balloon Ascension Day is a holiday that’s observed annually on the 9th of January and commemorates the first balloon flight that took place on this date in 1793. This balloon flight sparked the national imagination and led to many people trying to figure out how they could take to the skies with manned flight.

Hot air balloons also had a significant impact on the popular culture of the time. They became a symbol of wealth at first but would later become something that could be enjoyed by people of all social and economic classes. Today, it’s viewed as an important day in aviation history, and that’s the primary reason why this holiday is observed every year.

The History of National Balloon Ascension Day

At approximately 10 am on January 9th, 1793, Jean-Pierre François Blanchard rose from the courtyard of the Walnut Street Jail located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was riding aboard a silk balloon filled with hydrogen. Along for the ride were a dog and a few scientific instruments as well.

Since Blanchard sold tickets to this event, there was quite a crowd gathered for it. A famous member of that crowd was George Washington. The balloon rose to approximately 600 feet and drifted with the winds to the southwest.

After approximately 45 or 46 minutes, Blanchard and his balloon descended near the village of Deptford, New Jersey. Although Blanchard spoke no English, he was still able to get some local farmers to help him return to Philadelphia to conclude his event.

He would then return to France. Although Blanchard’s balloon flight was truly a remarkable event, it would take another 218 years before someone would think to honor the event by giving it its own holiday.

This happened in 2011 when National Balloon Ascension Day was created. Ever since then, it’s been a holiday observed by aviation aficionados all across the U.S., and a day that encourages everyone everywhere to look towards the skies.

Observing National Balloon Ascension Day

There are several different ways to observe this holiday. Aviation enthusiasts can take the time to learn more about this historic balloon flight, or they can teach their children about this event. People can also take one of the many balloon flights that are available across the U.S. on this day.

And people can attend balloon festivals. As people are observing National Balloon Ascension Day, we would encourage them to use the hashtag #BalloonAscensionDay on social media to spread the word about it. Let us all take the time to observe this historic event and the beginning of modern aviation.

When is it?
This year (2024)
January 9 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
January 9 Thursday
Last year (2023)
January 9 Monday
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