The people of China were floating small, silk balloons filled with hot air as early as 220 AD, though they didn't attach passengers to these balloons. They used them as part of festivals and also to send signals to each other during battles.
September 19, 1783: The first passengers to enter the basket of a hot air balloon were... a duck, a sheep and a rooster who went flying over rural France before floating back down to earth about 15 minutes later. Imagine the farmers' surprise to see the odd trio landing in their balloon! The inventor of this balloon was a person (a scientist named Pilatre deRozier).
November 21, 1783: Mr. deRozier convinced a couple of brothers (human this time) to try out his balloon a couple of months after he sent the farm animals floating over France. Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier launched in the balloon from the middle of Paris, had a successful flight and landed 20 minutes later.
January 7, 1793: The first hot air balloon flight in the United States was made by Jean Pierre Blanchard.