On February 1, 1858, William Dean piloted a hot-air balloon for a total flight of about 25 minutes across the Yarra River, becoming the first person in Australia to fly a lighter-than-air craft. The original plan was for Dean and friend, C. H. Brown, to jointly lift off. However, it was discovered that a valve had malfunctioned, resulting in insufficient hot air to lift both men. Dean, who had previous experience in piloting a hot-air balloon, remained in the balloon's basket while Brown jumped out. Dean then lifted off and piloted the aircraft about 8 miles (13 km).
Hot-air balloons were a great novelty that drew large crowds. In fact, an Australian attempt a few years earlier nearly resulted in a riot, when the paying crowd failed to see the pilot lift off of the ground due to some technical problems. The quick-on-his-feet aviator was able to outrun upwards of 4000 people and hide out while the disappointed and unruly crowd set fire to his balloon and equipment.
Ballooning was, and is, a graceful way to fly. Because hot-air balloons have to rely upon wind currents for navigation, they have never received lasting success for most commercial ventures. But they did inspire mankind to find other ways to fly and are considered one of the foundations of the aeronautic age.
This 4-stamp set honors both the free spirits and daring-do of Australia's hot-air balloon pioneers as well as the beauty of these graceful aircraft. Each stamp depicts a colorful balloon hovering in front of and over Australia landmarks and terrain.
The stamps are available in both self-adhesive and gummed versions, as are typical of most Australian stamps.
The lithographed stamps are issued as a set of four 50-cent stamps, so the total purchase price will be $2 (AU). These stamps are sure to be popular with topical collectors and quite a few would-be pilots.
The stamps can be ordered from Australia Post.
Australia, 2008Australia Post has recently issued a series of 4 postage stamps depicting hot-air ballooning. Released on May 6, 2008, the stamps celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first successful balloon flight in Australia. One-hundred fifty years ago, no one could have imagined that stamps would someday fly across the world attached to letters and carried on jet airplanes.