Hot air balloons always seem like a vacation bucket list item for a lot of people these days. There’s something serene about floating above the ground, light as a feather, watching the world beneath your feet. While balloons with bright colors and intricate designs may steal the show, we tend to pay more attention to the wicker basket holding all the passengers. So why is wicker the material of choice for hot air balloon baskets? This week, we’re diving into a quick history of hot air balloons and uncovering why wicker works best for this wondrous way to travel!
History of Hot Air Balloons
Hot air balloons have been around since the 1700s. 1783, to be exact, when a pair of brothers set a balloon in flight in Paris on the fourth of June. Etienne Montgolfier, with the help of his brother Joseph, managed to stay afloat for nearly 20 minutes above Paris before landing. Later that year, on September 19th, Pilatre de Rozier assisted the Montgolfier brothers in launching another balloon at Versailles, the royal palace of France, for King Louis the XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. The passengers of that 15-minute voyage were a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. Though many balloonists failed and even died in ballooning attempts (Pilatre de Rozier among those who lost lives to their passion as he attempted the first manned balloon ride across the English Channel), hot air balloons have since completed impressive feats including crossing Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and even breaking through the stratosphere. So we began to wonder: why is wicker the material of choice for making hot air balloon baskets? Here’s what we found out.
Why Wicker Baskets?
Wicker and aluminum are the two most common materials used for hot air balloon baskets. Aluminum is often used for extremely high rides as it can create a pressurized chamber. That’s extremely important considering the world record for altitude reached in a hot air balloon, set by Vijaypat Singhania in 2005, was 69,852 feet!
However, for most people going on a leisurely balloon ride, you’re likely to find yourself in a wicker basket. There are a few reasons for that. The first is that wicker is extremely light. Because the balloon already has weight to carry (passengers, propane, etc.) it is important that the vehicle itself be as light as possible. For safety purposes the material must also be extremely strong. Well woven wicker is so strong that some ancient civilizations used it for shields, so it is strong enough to hold plenty of weight without issue. Wicker is also an ideal material for comfort purposes. Footholds and handholds can be easily woven into a basket at any height to help people get in and out. The material is also flexible so it can absorb some of the impact while landing, lessening the shock on passengers’ knees.
Call the Wickery Today!
Wicker is great for more than just travelling by hot air balloon. Beautiful options for both outdoor and indoor furniture can bring the strong, beautiful style of wicker straight into your home. Whether you’re looking for a fun, fresh accent table or a statement piece for the front room, the Wickery can provide a piece that inspires you – and that’s one fact that isn’t full of hot air!