In the civil war, union troops, like the french army befor them, used balloons to spy behind enemy lines to see how battles were going.
Three french scientist, exploring the atmosphere, soared to 25,000 feet in a balloon. The men took bottles of oxygenwith them, but when the balloon landed only one scientist survived.
The early 1900s brought dirigible, or blimps. Made of several balloons, it was fitted with motors and propellers that let the piolet steer. A cabin on the underside held more than 100 people on Atlantic crossings.
The man who invented a way to travel safely high into the atmosphere was a swiss name Auguste Piccard, who built a ball shaped aluminum gondola. Sealed inside with oxgen tanks, he safely reached a height of 54,ooo feet.
Brave men keep going higher. Two u.s. navy officers, Malcolm D. and Victor Pather, Jr.,went up 113,740 feet in an open gondola to test space suits for astronauts.
Others had crossed the oceans, but Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones were the first to balloon non-stop around the world, covering 30,000 miles in 20 days. Their balloon was a cross between a hot air balloon and gas balloon.
Planes have long been the way to travel by air, but you often see a dirigible carrying a TV above a football game or other sports events.
Hundreds of small weather balloons explore the atmosphere and transmint their findings to Earth.