Falling Upwards Book Summary - Falling Upwards Book explained in key points
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Falling Upwards summary

Richard Holmes

How We Took to The Air

4.1 (14 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Falling Upwards by Richard Holmes is a historical non-fiction book exploring the pioneers of hot-air balloon flights in the 19th century, their ambitions, struggles and impact in shaping modern science and society.

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    Falling Upwards
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    Ballooning is not for the faint of heart.

    It there’s one characteristic still associated with ballooning, it’s eccentricity. After all, it’s hardly a common pastime. But piloting a hot-air balloon is by no means a whimsical whooshing amid the clouds. Getting airborne and flying off into the sky is risky, even to this day.

    In 2008, a Brazilian priest and experienced balloonist, Father Adelir Antonio de Carli, had an idea. He wanted to raise money for the poor. His means were unconventional: ballooning for charity. He strapped himself into a chair lashed to hundreds of colored helium balloons and started his ascent.

    At first, all went well. Father Adelir climbed to 19,000 feet. But then his GPS navigator failed and he lost radio contact. The wind drove him out to sea. A rescue party was dispatched, but to no avail. In July, the remains of Father Adelir's body were found floating about 100 kilometers off the Brazilian coast. In all likelihood, some of the helium balloons had burst at high altitude. Father Adelir would have descended gently to the ocean, where sharks swam waiting for him.

    And, of course, what’s risky now was dangerous in the past, too. In fact, even Father Adelir’s charity balloon flight wasn’t the first of its kind. In 1875, Major John Money took to the skies in his balloon in England for the local Norwich and Norfolk hospital.

    The major’s experience was similar to the priest’s. The launch was pitch-perfect. Once in the air, however, the balloon was caught by a gust and pulled out to sea.

    Thankfully, however, Major Money survived. When the rapidly deflating balloon sank to sea level, he cut off the weighty basket and hoisted himself into the balloon hoop. Like a modern day kite surfer, he was dragged through the water. Hours later, a rescue boat found him. Needless to say, the donations to the hospital were substantial.

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    What is Falling Upwards about?

    Falling Upwards (2014) details the surprisingly rich history of hot-air balloons. It begins with the first successful human attempts to take to the air using balloons and goes on to chronicle their clandestine role in escape attempts and military ventures. From daring balloonists from the golden age of ballooning to the literature they inspired, it’s all covered here.

    Falling Upwards Review

    Falling Upwards (2013) is a captivating exploration of humanity's fascination with flight and the incredible tales of early aviation pioneers. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With vivid storytelling and meticulous research, it brings to life the exhilarating adventures and daring feats of the early aviators.
    • Through well-crafted narratives and personal accounts, it offers a unique perspective on the social and cultural impact of aviation on society.
    • The book sheds light on the unyielding human spirit that drove these pioneers to conquer the skies, making it a truly inspiring read.

    Best quote from Falling Upwards

    Someone asked me what is the use of a balloon? I replied, whats the use of a newborn baby? – Benjamin Franklin

    —Richard Holmes
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    Who should read Falling Upwards?

    • Anyone with a taste for exploration and invention
    • Science enthusiasts
    • Historians of science

    About the Author

    Richard Holmes is a prize-winning author, best known for his nonfiction book The Age of Wonder, which details scientific development at the end of the eighteenth century. He has also written numerous celebrated biographies, including a life of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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    Falling Upwards FAQs 

    What is the main message of Falling Upwards?

    The main message of Falling Upwards is that we can learn and grow from embracing the challenges and failures in our lives.

    How long does it take to read Falling Upwards?

    The reading time for Falling Upwards varies depending on the reader's pace. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Falling Upwards a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Falling Upwards offers inspiring stories that remind us of the transformative power of exploring the unknown. Definitely worth a read!

    Who is the author of Falling Upwards?

    The author of Falling Upwards is Richard Holmes.

    What to read after Falling Upwards?

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