The end of donkey ballooning in Tbilisi

If you expect to come to Georgia and go hot air ballooning with a donkey you will be disappointed. However, visitors who came to Georgia in the 19th century were able to go flying with donkey aviators.

The tall person told me that that the first hot air balloon flight in Georgia was undertaken by a French balloonist called Bede on 10 November, 1882. Bede rose into the air in a Montgolfier balloon from Mushtaidi Gardens in Tiflis (old name of Tbilisi) and reached a height of 200-300 meters.

The Frenchman went on to carry out several flights in Tiflis, including one in which he was accompanied by a donkey!

Advertisement for Bede’s Mongolfier balloon flight

Ten years later, in Tiflis, balloonist Ogust Gordon took a donkey up into the air with him. During the flight he mounted the animal, which became frightened and began braying.

Advertisement for balloonist Ogust Gordon’s flight in a silk balloon from Junker Square

Inspired by Ogust Gordon, Tiflis businessmen Poladov, Gumiashvili, and Bakradze decided to organize commercial ballooning in the capital. They offered hot air balloon rides, in the company of a donkey, in Alexandrov Gardens but no one was willing to fly in the balloon and the donkey was sent up on its own. The balloon came down in Avlabari near Metekhi Castle. When the businessmen got there they found that the basket was empty and the donkey had been stolen.

This put an end to Georgian commercial ballooning for more than one hundred years (and donkey ballooning forever).

Source and illustrations: Georgian Ballooning Open