They first thought that smoke provided the lift for their balloon. So, they filled their balloon with smoke from a fire of straw and humidified wool from old shoes. The denser the smoke, the better, they thought. Only later they realized that it was the hot air provided by the fire that mattered, not the smoke.
The first public demonstrated flight of a hot air balloon took place on 4 June 1783, in Annonay, France. The balloon rose to a height of 1,000 meters, and traversed a distance of two kilometers approx. It was made of cloth, lined with paper, coated with alum as fireproofing, and its segments held together by about 2,000 buttons.
The first hot air balloon was destroyed on landing by local peasants who were alarmed by the highly unusual fact of it flying over and landing in their fields.