Rags to Riches: Answer questions in a quest for fame and fortune.

The First Brothers of Flight

Read the passage and answer the questions.

About 100 years before the Wright brothers were born, Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier lived in a little town not far from Paris, France. One day, Joseph threw a paper bag into the fire. Before it could burn, the bag floated up the chimney. This gave the men an idea.

The hot air captured inside the bag must be lighter than the cool air around it, they thought. That would make the bag rise. To test their idea, they made a balloon and filled it with hot air. It rose off the ground as the paper bag had. Their idea had been right!

The brothers made larger and larger balloons. What if we could make a balloon big enough to carry a person into the sky? they wondered. If their plan worked, Jacques and Joseph's balloon would be the world's first flying machine.

The brothers finally made a balloon big enough to carry two people. But what if their balloon fell? The passengers could be hurt-or worse. They decided to send up animals instead of people. The very first hot air balloon passengers were a goat, a duck, and a rooster. After a smooth flight, the animals landed in a treetop two miles away. The brothers decided it was time to send a person aloft.

On November 21, 1783, a great crowd watched the men fill their giant balloon. At the sound of a cannon, the brothers untied the ropes that held the balloon to the ground. Two young Frenchmen were on board, but they were not the Montgolfier brothers.

Finally, the blue and gold balloon rose high into the sky. It glided silently over the rooftops of Paris, far above the cheering people. After floating five miles, the brave passengers landed gently on the ground. The trip had lasted 20 thrilling minutes.

Thanks to Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier, a whole new way of traveling became possible. The world would never be the same.

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Sixth Grade Teacher
Ray Middle School
Baldwinsville, NY

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