Ballooning . . . nearly motionless and noiseless, the art of ballooning transcends the role of man on earth and allows him to become at once a part of the skies and nature. Man's oldest form of aerial excursion, ballooning began in France in 1783 with the experiments of the Montgolfier brothers. The first flight across the English Channel was in a balloon in 1785. Balloons have held a place in the military since the Civil War when lighter-than-air-craft were used for scouting and observation. Early balloons were made with everything from varnished taffeta to cloth and rubber. Today's airships are of nylon and polyester and are more colorful than ever. The baskets of yesterday have given way to modern wickers and aluminums. Balloons now typically carry flight instrumentation: vertical speed, altimeter and propane gas level indicators. As ballooning can tolerate no more than ten knots of wind while inflating and ascending, it is usually limited to the early mornings when the air is cool and dense. "The Great Greenwich Balloon Race" is entirely fictional. It just demonstrates the beauty of ballooning.