|On a November 21:|
First manned hot air balloon flight
French inventor Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis François-Laurent d'Arlandes make the first manned hot air balloon flight when they fly over Paris, France, for twenty-five minutes. Their cloth balloon was crafted by French papermaking brothers Jacques Etienne and Joseph Michel Montgolfier, who believed smoke, not hot air, caused balloons to rise. Fueling the balloon's burner with a combination of damp straw, rotting meat, and rags, Rozier and d'Arlandes ascended as high as 1000 meters, before returning safely to earth. The previous month, Rozier was the first human passenger aboard a rising balloon, when he rose 25 meters in a tethered Montgolfier-made balloon, and four months before that, a duck, a rooster, and a sheep each successfully took a ride on a Montgolfier hot air balloon.
physician Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, the marquis
d' Arlandes, make the first untethered hot-air balloon flight, flying9
kilometers over Paris in about 25 minutes. Their cloth balloon was crafted
by French papermaking brothers Jacques-Étienne and Joseph-Michel Montgolfier,
inventors of the world's first successful hot-air balloons.
For time immemorial, humanity has dreamed of flight. Greek mythology tells of Daedalus, who made wings of wax, and Leonardo da Vinci drew designs of flying machines and envisioned the concept of a helicopter in the 15th century. It was not until the 1780s, however, that human flight became a reality.
The first successful flying device may not have been a Montgolfier balloon but an "ornithopter"--a glider-like aircraft with flapping wings. According to a hazy record, the German architect Karl Friedrich Meerwein succeeded in lifting off the ground in an ornithopter in 1781. Whatever the veracity of this record, Meerwein's flying machine never became a viable means of flight, and it was the Montgolfier brothers who first took men into the sky.
Joseph and Étienne Montgolfier ran a prosperous paper business in the town of Vidalon in southern France. Their success allowed them to finance their interest in scientific experimentation. In 1782, they discovered that combustible materials burned under a lightweight paper or fabric bag would cause the bag to rise into the air. From this phenomenon, they deduced that smoke causes balloons to rise. Actually, it is hot air that causes balloons to rise, but their error did not interfere with their subsequent achievements.
On 04 June 1783, the brothers gave the first public demonstration of their discovery, in Annonay. An unmanned balloon heated by burning straw and wool rose 1000 meters into the air before settling to the ground 3 kilometers away. In their test of a hot-air balloon, the Montgolfiers were preceded by Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão, a Brazilian priest who launched a small hot-air balloon in the palace of the king of Portugal in 1709. The Montgolfiers were unaware of Lourenço's work, however, and quickly surpassed it.
On 19 September, the Montgolfiers sent a sheep, a rooster, and a duck aloft in one of their balloons in a prelude to the first manned flight. The balloon, painted azure blue and decorated with golden fleurs-de-lis, lifted up from the courtyard of the palace of Versailles in the presence of King Louis XVI. The barnyard animals stayed afloat for eight minutes and landed safely three kilometers away. On 15 October, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier made a tethered test flight of a Montgolfier balloon, briefly rising into the air before returning to earth.
The first untethered hot-air balloon flight occurred before a large, expectant crowd in Paris on 21 November. Pilâtre and d'Arlandes, an aristocrat, rose up from the grounds of royal Château La Muette in the Bois de Boulogne and flew approximately nine kilometers. The brazier which heated the air to provide the balloon's buoyancy set the cotton-and-paper balloon itself on fire, so the two balloonists had a hazardous trip extinguishing the fire with wet sponges. Humanity had at last conquered the sky. [image >]
The Montgolfier brothers were honored by the French Académie des Sciences for their achievement. They later published books on aeronautics and pursued important work in other scientific fields.
Montgolfier, Joseph-Michel Montgolfier was born on 26 August
1740, in Annonay, France, and died on 26 June 1810 at Balaruc-les-Bains.
Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier was born on 06 January 1745, in Annonay, and died on 02 August 1799, enroute from Lyon to Annonay
These French brothers were pioneer developers of the hot-air balloon and conducted the first untethered flights. Modifications and improvements of the basic Montgolfier design were incorporated in the construction of larger balloons that, in later years, opened the way to exploration of the upper atmosphere. Joseph (see photograph) and Étienne (see photograph) were 2 of the 16 children of Pierre Montgolfier, whose prosperous paper factories in the small town of Vidalon, near Annonay, in southern France, ensured the financial support of their balloon experiments. While carrying on their father's paper business, they maintained their interest in scientific experimentation. In 1782 they discovered that heated air, when collected inside a large lightweight paper or fabric bag, caused the bag to rise into the air. The Montgolfiers made the first public demonstration of this discovery on 04 June 1783, at the marketplace in Annonay. They filled their balloon with heated air by burning straw and wool under the opening at the bottom of the bag. The balloon rose into the air about 1000 meters, remained there some 10 minutes, and then settled to the ground more than two kilometers from where it rose. The Montgolfiers traveled to Paris and then to Versailles, where they repeated the experiment with a larger balloon on 19 September 1783, sending a sheep, a rooster, and a duck aloft as passengers. The balloon floated for about 8 minutes and landed safely about 3 kilometers from the launch site.
On 21 November 1783, the first manned untethered flight took place in a Montgolfier balloon with Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, marquis d'Arlandes, as passengers ). The balloon sailed over Paris for 9 kilometers in about 25 minutes.
The two brothers were honored by the French Académie des Sciences. They published books on aeronautics and continued their scientific careers. Joseph invented a calorimeter and the hydraulic ram, and Étienne developed a process for manufacturing vellum.
First human air travellers Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes were the first humans to fly, on 21 November 1783. They ascended in a Montgolfier balloon made of cotton and paper. The brazier which heated the air to provide the balloon's propulsion set the balloon itself alight, so the two flyers had a hazardous trip extinguishing the fire with wet sponges
The earliest manned balloon flights. On 21 November 1783 two aristocrats, the Marquis d'Arlandes and Pilâtre de Rozier travelled 9 km across Paris in a Montgolfier hot-air balloon. Then, on 01 December 1783, Professor Charles and M. Robert ascended in a hydrogen balloon from the Jardin des Tuilleries; their voyage was in two stages, first with both balloonists as far as Nesle, nine leagues from Paris, and then with Prof. Charles alone, for another one and a half leagues
Presents information about the history of ballooning. Notes that soon after Joseph Priestly wrote "Experiments and Observations With Different Types of Air" in 1774, paper manufacturer Joseph Montgolfier starting experiments with balloons. Explains that the first demonstration flight was conducted with only animals, such as a sheep, a cockerel, and a duck. States that the first manned balloon flight took place on 21 November 1783, with pilots Marquis D'Arlandes and Pilâtre de Rozier. Details the flight, noting that the balloon caught fire in several places during the flight. Includes information about the later history of ballooning. Offers access to photographic images of helium and hot air balloons. Links to the home page of Photovault.
History of Ballooning
The history of the discovery of lighter-than-air modes of flight seems like such a simple idea that it is astoundining that it took as long as it did to discover it. And even the discovery itself was somewhat accidental. In 1766, Henry Cavendish discovered what he called "inflammable air" - hydrogen, and showed it to be much lighter than the surrounding atmosphere. Thus the principle of a craft "floating in a sea of air" was born. In 1774, Joseph Priestly wrote Experiments and Observations with Different Types of Air translated into French three years later, this inspired paper manufacturer Joseph Montgolfier to start experimentation with the principles of gas volume in relation to temperature. In 1782, with his brother Etienne, he succeeded in flying small paper and cloth balloons filled with hot air. The Montgolfier brothers may not have fully understood the physical basis of the lift produced by the air. For launching, it seemed they wished to use dense choking smoke, produced from damp straw and chopped wool. For a royal demonstration at Versailles in September 1783, Joseph supplemented this with old shoes and rotting meat: "The King and Queen came up to examine the machine, but the noxious smell thus produced obliged them to retire at once" There are three possible reasons for their fuel choice. They may have believed that dense smoke had more of the 'virtue of lightness' - a late medieval concept, or that dense smoke would be retained better inside the balloon. Or perhaps they wished to conceal the technique (or, perhaps they were just thick). Whatever, the smell was of no concern to the brothers, as the pilots for that demonstration flight were a sheep, a cockerel, and a duck. Their safe flight dispelled fears that venturing into the upper atmosphere might prove fatal, and confirmed that you only need be as skilled as a small farmyard animal to become a pilot.
The first manned flight took place on 21 November 1783. The envelope of the Montgolfier balloon was made of cotton and paper coated with alum as a form of fire-proofing. Cords sewn into the fabric carried a wicker gallery at the base. The pilots were the Marquis D'Arlandes and Pilâtre de Rozier, who stood at opposite sides to balance the balloon and pitchforked straw through two openings into a large brazier mounted in the neck of the balloon (for some reason, the Montgolfier brothers must have been reluctant to fly in a paper balloon with a huge straw fire at the bottom) . Each had a sponge and a bucket of water to put out fires in the envelope. The Marquis had been admiring the view of the Seine, when Pilâtre de Rozier urged him to stoke faster with the words: "If you look at the river in that fashion you will be likely to bathe in it soon. Some fire, my dear friend, some fire!" Unfortunately, the Marquis must have heeded the words too well, as soon they noticed that the balloon envelope had burned through in several places -- but they could not descend as they were still over the rooftops of Paris. They put out the fires in the envelope and tested the over-heated suspension cords: only two had broken so they put more straw in the brazier and rose again. After a flight of twenty five minutes, obtaining a height of 1000 meters, the balloon cleared Paris and landed in parkland near the present day Place d'Italie.
When news of the brothers experiments
reached scientist J.A.C. Charles in Paris, he started his own
experiments with hydrogen gas. A small test balloon was sent
off on the 27th August 1783; and by 1st December a full size
version was ready, and made an equally successful ascent from
Paris. However, landowner relations were also still in early
development; terrified villagers pitchforked the first hydrogen
balloon on landing. After this, the French government issued
a proclaimation to allay public alarm about future experiments:
"Anyone who should see in the sky such a globe should be aware
that, far from being an alarming phenomenon, it is only a machine
made of taffetas or light canvas covered with paper, that cannot
possibly cause any harm , and which will someday prove servicable
to the wants of society."
News of amazing ascents in 1783 Paris paved the way for professional showmen who earned a living from public ascents, often from pleasure gardens. These spectacles attracted huge, often unruly crowds, and a riot was likely if anything went wrong to prevent departure. Balloonists sometimes took off with faulty equipment or partly inflated balloons rather than face a dissapointed mob. As the public became used to simple ascents, performances had to become more elaberate; fireworks discharged from the balloon, at considerable risk, parachute drops, ascents on horseback (?), 'giant' balloons, and the suspension of female acrobats from balloons above London by their teeth alone.
Charles' balloon was a much more practical device than the hot air balloon in the 18th century, and differed very little from the gas balloons flying today. For almost two centuries hot-air balloons were virtually ignored until the late 1950's when a balloon was built as part of a United States Government research programm. This balloon was of man-made fibres and was filled with air heated by a propane flame. The modern hot-air balloon as we know it today was born.
Aeronautics Sailing in the Air, from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1851.
Aeronautics, or the art of sailing in the air, is of very modern date; if, indeed, we are warranted to say that the art has yet been acquired, for we have only got a machine or apparatus capable of sustaining some hundreds of pounds of air, the means of guiding and propelling it having yet to be discovered. The attention and admiration of men would doubtless be attracted from the beginning to the ease, grace, and velocity with which the feather race soar aloft, and wing their way in the upper regions; but there is no reason to believe that any of the nations of antiquity--not even Greece and Rome, with all their progress in science and art--ever made the smallest advances toward the discovery of a method of flying, or of aerial navigation.
Archytas of Tarentum, a celebrated Pythagorean philosopher, who flourished about four hundred years before the Christian era, is indeed said to have constructed a wooden flying pigeon; but, from the imperfect accounts transmitted to us of its machinery, there is every probability that its flight was one of many deceptions of the magic art which the ancients so well understood and so expertly practiced. The attention of man was much earlier, as well as more earnestly and successfully turned to the art of navigating lakes, rivers and seas. . . . .
Our object in this paper is to give a concise history of aeronautics, commencing at that period when something like an approach was made to the principles upon which the art could be reduced to practice. The person who is entitled to the honor of the discovery of the main principle of aeronautics--atmospheric buoyancy--is Roger Bacon, an English monk of the thirteenth century. This eminent man, whose uncommon genius was, in that superstitious and ignorant age, ascribed to his intercourse with the devil, was aware that the air is a material of some constancy, capable, like the ocean, of bearing vessels on its surface; and, in one of his works, he particularly describes the construction of a machine by which he believed it was possible to navigate the air. It is a large, thin, hollow globe of copper, or other suitable metal, which he proposes to fill with "ethereal air or liquid fire," and then to launch from some elevated point into the atmosphere when he supposes it will float on is surface like a vessel on the water. He afterward says, "There may be made some flying instrument, so that a man, sitting in the middle of the instrument, and turning some mechanism, may put in motion some artificial wings, which may beat the air like a flying bird." But though Bacon knew the buoyancy of the atmosphere, he was very imperfectly acquainted with its properties. His idea seems to have been, that the boundaries of the atmosphere are at no great height, and that the aerial vessel, in order to its being borne up, must be placed on the surface of the air, just as a ship, in order to its being supported, must be placed on the surface of the water. And whatever may be meant by his "ethereal air and liquid fire," there is no evidence that he, or any one living in that age, had any knowledge of the various and distinct gases. Bacon merely reasoned and theorized on the subject; he never attempted to realize these flying projects by actual experiment.
| It was not until the year 1782 that
the art of aerial navigation was discovered, and the merit of the discovery
is due to two brothers, wealthy paper manufacturers at Annonay, not far
from Lyons--Stephen and Joseph Montgolfier. This discovery they did not
arrive at from any scientific reasoning founded on the elasticity and
weight of the atmosphere, for, though attached to the study of mathematics
and chemistry, they do not appear to have particularly turned their attention
to aeronautics; but, from observing how clouds and smoke rise and float
in the atmosphere, it occurred to Stephen, the younger of the two, that
a light paper bag, filled with cloud or smoke, would, from the natural
tendency of these substances to ascend, be carried by their force in
an upward direction. About the middle of November 1782, they made their
first experiment in their own chamber at Avignon, with a light paper
bag of an oblong shape, which they inflated by applying burning paper
to an orifice in the lower part of the bag, and in a few minutes they
had the satisfaction of seeing it ascend to the ceiling of the chamber.
Constructing a paper bag of larger dimensions, they made a similar experiment
in the open air, with equal success, and, the bag being of a spherical
shape, they gave it the name of balloon, from its resemblance to a large,
round, short-necked chemical vessel so called. Finding, from repeated
trials, that the larger the balloon the more successful was the experiment,
they proceeded to construct one of linen lined with paper, 10 meters
in diameter; and, on 25 April 1783, after being filled with rarified
air, it rapidly rose to the height of 300 m, and fell to the ground at
the distance of over one kilometer from the spot where it ascended.
Encouraged by this success, the Montgolfiers came to the resolution of making a public experiment with this last constructed balloon at Annonay, on 05 June following. It was inflated with heated air, by the lower orifice being placed over a pit or well, in which burned chopped straw and wool. Two men were sufficient to fill it; but when fully inflated, eight men were required to prevent it from ascending. On being released from its fastenings, it rose majestically to the height of some 200 m, and made its descent at the distance of two kilometers from the point of its departure.
This novel experiment, which forms an important epoch in the history of the art of aeronautics, attracted universal attention, and Stephen Montgolfier, having soon after arrived in Paris, was requested by the Royal Academy of Sciences, whose sittings, immediately on his arrival he had been invited to attend, to repeat the experiment at their expense. He gladly availed himself of their proposal, and speedily got prepared a large balloon of an elliptical shape, 22 m high, and 12.5 m in diameter. It was finished in a style of great magnificence, and elegantly decorated on the outer surface with beautiful and appropriate designs. When completed, it weighed 400 kg. As a preliminary experiment, it raised eight men from the ground, and on 12 September 1783, it ascended, in the presence of the Royal Academy, with a load of some 200 kg; but, in consequence of an injury it received in rising from a violent gust of wind, it did not present the same interesting spectacle as the public experiment had previously made, and, upon its descent, it was found to be so seriously damaged, as to be unfit for future experiments. A new one of nearly the same dimensions was, therefore, ordered to be made, to which was added a basket of wicker-work, for the accommodation of a sheep, a rooster, and a duck, which were intended as passengers.
It was inflated, in the presence of the King and royal family, at Versailles, and, when loosened from its moorings, it rose, with the three animals we have named--the first living creatures who ever ascended in an aerial machine--to the height of about 500 meters, an accident similar to what befell the other preventing it from attaining a higher elevation. It, however, descended safely with the animals, at the distance of 3 km from the place of its ascent. Hazardous as it might be, it was now fully demonstrated that it was quite practicable for man to ascend in the atmosphere, and individuals were soon found sufficiently daring to make the experiment. Another balloon was constructed, 22 meters high and 15 meters in diameter, and M. Pilâtre de Rozier, superintendent of the royal museum, and the Marquis de Arlandes, volunteered to make an aerial voyage. At the bottom, it had an opening of about 5 m in diameter, around which a gallery of wicker-work one meter broad, with a balustrade all around the outer edge, of the same material, one meter high; and, to enable the aeronauts to increase or diminish at pleasure the rarified state of the air within, it was provided with an iron brazier, intended for the fire, which could easily be regulated as necessity required.
On 21 November, in the same year, the adventurers having taken their places on opposite sides of the gallery, the balloon rose majestically in the sight of an immense multitude of spectators, who witnessed its upward course with mingled sentiments of fear and admiration. The whole machine, with fuel and passengers, weighed 700 kg. It rose to the height of 1000 m, and remained in the air from 20 to 25 minutes, visible all the time to the inhabitants of Paris and its environs. At several times it was in imminent danger of taking fire, and the marquis in terror for his life, would have made a precipitate descent, which, in all probability would have ended fatally, but M. Pilâtre de Rozier, who displayed great coolness and intrepidity, deliberately extinguished the fire with a sponge of water he had provided for the emergency, by which they were enabled to stay in the atmosphere some time longer. They raised and lowered themselves frequently during their excursion, by regulating the fire in the brazier, and finally landed safely 8 km distant from the place where they started, after having sailed over a great portion of Paris. This is the first authentic instance in which man succeeded in putting into practical operation the art of traveling in the air, which had hitherto baffled his ingenuity, though turned to the subject for two thousand years.
The news of the novel and adventurous
feat rapidly spread over the whole civilized world, and aerial
ascents in balloons constructed on the same principle were made
in other cities of France, in Italy, and in the United States
of America. The two Montgolfiers soon obtained a high and wide-spread
reputation; and the Royal Academy of Sciences of Paris voted
a gold medal to Stephen, the younger brother. It was to heated
or rarified air that these balloons owed their ascending power;
but the Montgolfiers, in the paper in which they communicated
their discovery to the Royal Academy, erroneously attributed
the ascending power of the balloon, not to the rarified air
in the balloon, but to a peculiar gas they supposed to be evolved
by the combustion of chopped straw and wool mixed together,
to which the name of Montgolfiers' gas was given, it being believed
for a time, even by members of the Academy, that a new kind
of gas, different from hydrogen, and lighter than common air,
had been discovered.
Hydrogen gas, or, as it was also called, inflammable air, whose specific gravity was first discovered in 1766 by Henry Cavendish, though the gas itself had been known long before to coal miners, from its fatal effects, was, from its being the lightest gas known, early taken advantage of for inflating balloons. It indeed occurred to the ingenious Dr. Black of Edinburgh, as soon as he read Mr. Cavendish's paper, which appeared in the Philosophical Transactions for 1766, that if a sufficiently thin and light bladder were filled with this gas, the bladder would necessarily ascend in the atmosphere, as it would form a mass lighter than the same bulk of atmospheric air. Not long after, it suggested itself to Tiberius Cavallo, an Italian philosopher, when he first began to study the subject of air, that it was possible to construct a vessel which, when filled with hydrogen gas, would ascend in the atmosphere. In 1782, he actually attempted to perform the experiment, though the only success he had was to let soap balls, filled with that gas, ascend by themselves rapidly in the air, which, says he, were perhaps the first sort of inflammable air balloons ever made; and he read an account of his experiments to the Royal Society at their public meeting on 20 June 1782. But during the later part of the year 1783, two gentlemen in the city of Philadelphia actually tested the value of hydrogen gas as a means of inflating balloons.
The French Academy, guided by the suggestion of Dr. Black, and the experiments of Cavallo, also concluded to make the experiment of raising a balloon inflated with the same gas. To defray the expense of the undertaking, a subscription was opened, and so great was the enthusiasm excited by the design among people of all ranks and classes, that the requisite sum was speedily subscribed for. A silken bag from lute-string silk, about four meters in diameter, and of a globular shape, was constructed by Messrs. Roberts under the superintendence of M. Charles, professor of experimental philosophy; and to render the bag impervious to the gas--a very essential object in balloon manufacture--it was covered with a varnish composed of gum elastic dissolved in spirits of turpentine. It had but one aperture, like the neck of a bottle, into which was fastened the stop-cock for the convenience of introducing and stopping-off the gas. It was constructed and inflated near the Place of Victories, in August 1783, and after being inflated, which was then no easy task, occupying several days, it was removed on the morning of 27 August, before daylight, to the Champ de Mars (three kilometers distant), the place appointed for its ascent. At about 17:00, it was released from its fastenings, and rose, in the presence of some hundred thousands of applauding spectators, to a height upward of 1000 m; and, after remaining in the atmosphere for three-quarters of an hour, descended in a field near Gonesse, a village about 25 km distant from the Champ de Mars.
This marks another important era in the history of aeronautics. The hydrogen-gas balloon, in the first place, is attended with less risk than the Montgolfiers' balloon, which requires the dangerous presence of a fire to preserve the air in a sufficiently rarified state; and, in the second place, it has a much greater ascending power than rarified air balloons of the same size, in consequence of its superior lightness. M. Charles and the two Messrs. Roberts now resolved to undertake an aerial excursion in a balloon of this description. With this view, the Messrs. Roberts formed one of silk, varnished with gum elastic, of a spherical shape, 8 m in diameter, with a car suspended from it by several cords, which were fastened to a net drawn over the upper part of the balloon. To prevent the danger which might arise from the expansion of the gas under a diminished pressure of the atmosphere in the higher regions, the balloon was furnished with a valve, to permit the free discharge of gas, as occasion might require. The hydrogen gas with which it was filled was five and a fourth lighter than common air, and the filling lasted several days.
On 17 December 1783, M. Charles and one of the Roberts made their ascent from the garden of the Tuilleries, and rose to the height of 2000 m. After a voyage of an hour and three quarters, they descended at Nesle, a distance of 43 km from the place of their departure. On their descent, M. Roberts having left the car, which lightened the vessel about 60 kg, M. Charles re-ascended, and in twenty minutes mounted with great rapidity to the height of 2500 m. When he left the earth, the thermometer stood at 8ºC, but, in the space of ten minutes it fell 12ºC. On making this great and sudden transition into an atmosphere so intensely cold, he felt as if his blood were freezing, and experienced a severe pain in the right ear and jaw. He passed through different currents of air, and, in the higher regions, the expansion of the gas was so great, that the balloon must have burst, had he not speedily opened the valve, and allowed part of the gas to escape. After having risen to the height of 3200 m, he descended, about five kilometers from the place where M. Roberts stepped out of the car.
Jean Pierre Blanchard, a Frenchman, who had long exerted his ingenuity, but with little success, in attempting to perfect a mechanical contrivance by which he might be enabled to fly, was the next to prepare a balloon upon the hydrogen gas principle. It was 8 m in diameter. He ascended from Paris, 02 March 1784, accompanied by a Benedictine friar. After rising to the height of 5 m, the balloon was precipitated to the ground with a violent shock, which so frightened the friar, that he would not again leave terra firma. M. Blanchard re-ascended alone, and, in his ascent, he passed through various currents of air, as aeronauts generally do. He rose to the height of 2900 m, where he suffered from extreme cold, and was oppressed with drowsiness. As a means of directing his course, he had attached to the car an apparatus consisting of a rudder and two wings, but found that they had little or no controlling power over the balloon. He continued his voyage for an hour and a quarter, when he descended in safety.
| During the course of the year subsequent
to the Montgolfiers' discovery, several experiments on the ascending
power of balloons had been made in England; but the first person who
there ventured on an aerial voyage was Vincent Lunardi, an Italian, who
ascended from London, 21 September 1784. In the succeeding year, he gratified
the inhabitants of Glasgow and Edinburgh with the spectacle of an aerial
excursion, which they had never witnessed before. The first aerial voyage
across the sea was made by M. Blanchard, in company with Dr. Jeffries,
an American physician,, who was then residing in England. On the 07 January
1785, a beautiful frosty winter day, they ascended about one o'clock
from Dover, with the design of crossing the Channel between England and
France, a distance of about twenty-three miles, and, at great personal
risk, accomplished their purpose in two hours and a half. The balloon
at first rose slowly and majestically into the air, but it soon began
to descend, and, before they had crossed the Channel, they were obliged
to reduce the weight, by throwing out all their ballast, several books,
their apparatus, cords, grapples, bottles, and were even proceeding to
cast their clothes into the sea, when the balloon, which had then nearly
reached the French coast, began to ascend, and rose to a considerable
height, relieving them from the necessity of dispensing with much of
their apparel. They landed in safety at the edge of the forest of Guiennes,
not far beyond Calais, and were treated by the magistrates o that town
with the utmost kindness and hospitality. M. Blanchard had the honor
of being presented with 12'000 livres by the King of France.
Emboldened by this daring feat, Pilâtre de Rozier, already mentioned, and M. Romain prepared to pay back the compliment of M. Blanchard and Dr. Jeffries, by crossing the Channel from France to England. To avoid the difficulty of keeping up the balloon, which had perplexed and endangered Blanchard and his companion during nearly their whole course, Rozier had recourse to the expedient of placing underneath the hydrogen balloon a fire balloon of smaller dimensions, which was intended to regulate the rising and falling of the whole machine. This promised to unite the advantages of both kinds of balloons, but it unhappily terminated in the melancholy death of the two adventurers. They ascended from Boulogne on 15 June 1785, but scarcely had a quarter of an hour elapsed from the time of their ascent, when at the height of 1000 m the whole machine was discovered to be in flames. Its scattered fragments, with the mangled bodies of the unfortunate aeronauts, who were probably killed by the explosion of the hydrogen gas, were found near the sea-shore, about six km from Boulogne. This was the first fatal accident which took place in balloon navigation, though several hundred ascensions had by this time been made.
In the early practices of aerial voyages, the chief danger apprehended was from accidental and rapid descents. To countervail this danger, and enable the adventurer, in cases of alarm, to desert his balloon, and descend to the ground uninjured, Blanchard invented the parachute, or guard for falling, as the word signifies in French, an apparatus very much resembling an umbrella, but of much larger dimensions. The design is to break the fall; and, to effect this, it is necessary that the parachute present a surface sufficiently large to experience from the air such resistance as will cause it to descend with a velocity not exceeding that with which a person can fall to the ground unhurt. During an aerial excursion which Blanchard took from Lisle in August 1785, when he traversed a distance of not less than 500 km, he dropped a parachute with a basked fastened to it, containing a dog, from a great elevation, and it fell gently through the air, letting down the animal to the ground in safety. The practice and management of the parachute were subsequently carried much farther by other aeronauts, and particularly by M. Garnerin, an ingenious and spirited Frenchman, who, during the course of his numerous ascents, repeatedly descended from the region of the clouds with that very slender machine. On one occasion, however, he suffered considerable injury in his descent. The stays of the parachute having unfortunately given way, its proper balance was disturbed, and, on reaching the ground, it struck against it with such violence, as to throw him on his face, by which he received some severe cuts. To let down a man of ordinary size form any height, a parachute of a hemispherical form, eight meters in diameter is required. But although the construction of a parachute is very simple, and the resistance it will meet with from the air in its descent, its size and load being given, can be exactly determined on scientific principles, few have ventured to try it; which may be owing partly to ignorance or inattention to the scientific principles by which it is governed, and partly to a growing opinion among aeronauts, that it is unnecessary, the balloon itself, in case of its bursting, forming a parachute; as Mr. Wise, the celebrated American aeronaut, experienced on two different occasions, as he narrates in his interesting work on Aeronautics, lately published in Philadelphia--a work to which we have been indebted in drawing up this article.
In the early part of the French revolutionary war, the savants of France, ambitious of bringing to the aid of the Republic al the resources of science, strongly recommended the introduction of balloons, as an effectual means of reconnoitering the armies of their enemies. From the advantages it seemed to promise, the recommendation was instantly acted upon by the government, which established an aeronautic school at Meudon, near Paris. The management of this institution, which was conducted with systematic precision, and concealed with the utmost care from the allied powers, was committed to the most eminent philosophers of Paris. Gyton Morveau, a celebrated French chemist, and M. Contel superintended the operations. Fifty military students were admitted for training. A practicing balloon of ten meters in diameter was constructed, of the most durable materials, and inflated with hydrogen gas. It was kept constantly full, so as to be at all times ready for exercise; and, to make it stationary at any given altitude, it was attached to windlass machinery. Balloons were speedily prepared by M. Contel for the different branches of the French army; the Entreprenant for the army of the north, the Celeste for that of the Sambre and Meuse, the Hercule for that of Rhine and Moselle, and the Intrepide for the memorable army of Egypt. The victory which the French achieved over the Austrians, on the plains of Fleurus in June 1794, is ascribed to the observations made by two of their aeronauts. Immediately before the battle, M. Contel and an adjuntant-general ascended twice in the war-balloon Entreprenant, to reconnoiter the Austrian army, and though, during their second aerial reconnaissance they were discovered by the enemy, who sent up after them a brisk cannonade, they quickly rose above the reach of danger, and, on descending, communicated such information to their general as enabled him to gain a speedy and decisive victory over the Austrians. . . . .
Ballooning is a sport which has captured the imagination since the late 18th century. Back in 1783 the Montgolfier brothers of Annonay, France, launched a large paper bag filled with smoke from a straw fire 2000 meters into the air. It may sound rather prosaic to us, weaned on Apollo missions into outer space, but back then it was nothing short of miraculous. The first unofficial manned balloon flight took place a few months later when the Marquis D'Arlandes and Jean-Francois Pilâtre de Rozier stood in the wicker basket, heaving straw into a large fire in the neck of the balloon. De Rozier has given his name to the type of balloon used in the Cable & Wireless model, but thankfully modern designs have dispensed with the hay-fuelled fire. A short while later de Rozier and Francois Laurent made the first official manned flight, rising some 150 m over Paris, only to land in vineyards, where they placated stunned farmers with champagne - a tradition which continues today. But tragedy would soon strike when Pilâtre de Rozier was killed in 1785 in an attempted Channel crossing when his balloon caught fire. It wasn't until the 1960s that ballooning as a sport literally took off.
1783 Premier voyage en montgolfière
Pilâtre de Rozier et le marquis d'Arlandes s'envolent à bord d'une montgolfière. Ils sont les premiers hommes qui échappent à la pesanteur terrestre. Les deux aéronautes s'élèvent jusqu'à 1000 mètres au-dessus des Tuileries. Après un vol de vingt minutes, ils atterrissent sur la Butte aux Cailles. L'idée d'utiliser un ballon rempli d'air chaud pour s'affranchir des lois de la pesanteur a été étudiée à partir de 1782 par les frères Etienne et Joseph Montgolfier, papetiers à Annonay. Joseph Montgolfier s'essaie d'abord à faire monter jusqu'au plafond des ballons de taffetas remplis d'air chaud. Puis, devant les notables d'Annonay, il lâche un ballon en toile et papier de 11 mètres de diamètre, préalablement rempli d'air chaud au-dessus d'un feu de paille. L'engin s'élève à 2000 mètres avant de rapidement retomber. Le 19 septembre 1783, les choses se corsent. Etienne Montgolfier fait voler un ballon à Paris, chez le fabricant de papiers peints Réveillon. La nacelle emporte un canard, un coq et un mouton sous le regard bienveillant de Louis XVI et de la cour. Les animaux survivront à l'aventure après une chute dans la forêt de Vaucresson. Les frères Montgolfier seront prêts pour renouveler l'expérience avec des cobbayes humains. Ce sera chose faite le 21 novembre. Mais malgré leur succès, les montgolfières ne serviront qu'au divertissement et, plus tard, au repérage des positions militaires. L'une d'elles fera sensation à la bataille de Fleurus en 1794.