ON JULY 4, 1882, six-foot-tall, 225-pound Park Van Tassel lifted off from Albuquerque’s Old Town in a hot-air balloon that was dangerously inflated at only two-thirds capacity. It was the first piloted flight of any kind in the state. Sky Rider: Park Van Tassel and the Rise of Ballooning in the West, by Gary B. Fogel (UNM Press), details the onetime saloon owner’s pioneering aerial exhibitionism, including the first balloon flights  and parachute jumps in the West and parts abroad. A daredevil who landed in such far-flung locations as “swamps, mudflats, trees, and seas,” Van Tassel set the course for New Mexico’s ballooning traditions.

Read More: An exhibit at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum celebrates adventurous, airborne women.