“The Balloon-Hoax” is the title used in collections and anthologies of a newspaper article written by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1844.
Originally presented as a true story, it detailed European Monck Mason’s trip across the Atlantic Ocean in only three days in a gas balloon.
It was later revealed as a hoax and the story was retracted two days later.
The story now known as “The Balloon-Hoax” was first printed in The Sun newspaper in New York.
The article provided a detailed and highly plausible account of a lighter-than-air balloon trip by famous European balloonist Monck Mason across the Atlantic Ocean taking 75 hours, along with a diagram and specifications of the craft.
Poe may have been inspired, at least in part, by a prior journalistic hoax known as the “Great Moon Hoax”, published in the same newspaper in 1835.
One of the suspected writers of that hoax, Richard Adams Locke, was Poe’s editor at the time “The Balloon-Hoax” was published.
Poe had complained for a decade that the paper’s Great Moon Hoax had plagiarized (by way of Locke) the basic idea from The Unparalleled Adventure Of One Hans Pfaall, one of Poe’s less successful stories which also involved similar inhabitants on the moon.
Poe felt The Sun had made tremendous profits from his story without giving him a cent. (Poe’s anger at The Sun paper is chronicled in the 2008 book “The Sun and the Moon” by Matthew Goodman.)