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Q:

What are hot air balloons made of and why are they so strong?

A:

The Montgolfier brothers were the first to make a piloted balloon flight in Paris France on November 21, 1783.  Early balloons were made of silk. At the time silk was expensive and difficult to repair, so alternative materials were needed. Today modern fabrics such as Nylon, Tyvek, and Nomex are used for hot air balloons construction.