Speed Reads

Come fly with me

Take a look at these gorgeous hot air balloons at the European Balloon Festival

We've come a long way from the first hot air balloon flight in 1783. That adventure featured a duck, a sheep and a rooster "piloting" a balloon constructed from paper and fabric.

Just a few months later, two men sailed into the air for the first "free flight." Scientist Jean-Francois Pilatre De Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes flew, untethered, over France for a 20-minute sail through the sky.

Today, France's neighbor Spain hosts one of the largest hot air balloon festivals in the world, the European Balloon Festival. More than 60 balloons lifted off into the air from Igualada, Catalonia, dancing over thousands of spectators and beneath breathtaking fireworks. Check out some of the gorgeous participant balloons below, and thank your lucky stars you weren't a duck in 1783. --Sarah Eberspacher

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