A History

Inventing ‘Le Montgolfière’  


The year was 1782. Joseph the paper maker gazed at the crackling fire in the grate, pleased with how quickly it had lit this time – although he rarely had problems getting it started, unlike his brother Étienne. He eased back into his favourite armchair in the semi-darkness, and as the burning wood began to release its sweet-sour perfume into the room, he sank into a reverie watching the sparks spit and glow... Read More Below

Creating the future

Le Montgolfière continued...

...immediately bright and rapidly extinguishing, like shooting stars as they raced upwards for the chimney, desperate to beat one another aloft into the blackness. What force, he wondered, drove them thus? Perhaps some mysterious gas containing explosive energy released from the flames. 


Sinking further, and deeper into a gentle waking dream, he fancied bubbles of this gas, floating, trapped inside watery envelopes, rather like the bubbles created when forcing soapy water through a narrow ring in the way that children played. 


What would it be like to imagine a great cloud of this gas, contained and trapped beneath a vast paper blanket, or even better, a vast paper and linen bubble, open at the bottom with a burning fire slung below. How big would such a balloon have to be to lift the weight of a man?!!! 


How would it be for the first ever human being to rise high above the ground and be swept along like the birds…looking down on rooftops, on treetops, on landscapes and people appearing so small below?!!!….What would it be like to sail high above his house, looking down on the chimney tops that had funnelled those sparks and wood smoke aloft. 


How strange and satisfying to remember those first musings that had given rise to this eighth wonder of the world, a man suspended in what had been the exclusive domain of clouds, birds and flying insects since the dawn of history. He could call his discovery “Montgolfier Gas!”…  

Epilogue - Back From The Future

On the 17th of December, 1903, the Wright Brothers flew their engine powered, heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, and changed the world forever. 


Barely more than a century before on 21st November 1783, two earlier men had made history, convinced that... you can trust your creative mind, even when it takes you beyond what is reasonable.  


They were carried into the sky, above Paris, proving excitedly to those prepared to follow such ideas, the genius and imagination of two French brothers, Joseph and Étienne Montgolfier. They piloted the first manned “Montgolfière” or hot air balloon. Never before had anyone created such a thrilling and imaginative future for human kind by rising above and looking back....  Good luck with Future-basing For Real!  



This story is often used as a metaphor by Future-basing Facilitators to ready people's minds for doing Future-basing.  

imagination did this too

Brunelleschi's Dome 1420

Achieving The Impossible

Architect Philippo Brunelleschi invented a way to build history's biggest unsupported dome for the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. No-one believed it possible

Jules Verne 1870

Predicting The Future

Jules Verne, in 1870, wrote of an atomic powered submarine, just forty years after the invention of the first crude dynamo or electric motor. The first nuclear submarine sailed in 1958

Wright Brothers 1903

Paradigm Shift

  The Wright Brothers, bicycle makers, dreamed in 1899, of an airscrew or propeller that if fixed to a petrol engine, could pull an aeroplane through the air long enough to sustain flight. They also worked out how to stabilize the airframe in flight

Arthur C Clarke 1946

Law of Attraction

Arthur C. Clark in 1946, published his vision of an amplifier floating in the upper atmosphere, that could bounce clear radio messages to the other side of the world.  in 1957 Sputnik was launched.  Now we have space stations

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