19th century hot air balloon flight at night
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Unlikely tales from ballooning's early history

7 November 2013 Last updated at 02:50 GMT

Taking to the sky in balloons has captivated the imagination for centuries, but this feat of floating wasn't always easy.

In ballooning's early days no-one knew what would happen once they flew into clouds - would they suffocate, or burn from the sun?

One scientist in 1862 nearly passed out from a lack of oxygen as his balloon rose higher than 30,000ft (9,144m) into the air.

In his book Falling Upwards, Richard Holmes chronicles the history of ballooning from its earliest days and profiles its pioneers, who took great risks to ascend through the clouds.

Produced David Botti and Colm O'Molloy

Additional images: British Pathe and Getty Images