Montgolfier balloon, 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model of the balloon used in the first manned free flight ascent of a hot-air balloon on 21 November 1783. The balloon was designed by the French brothers Joseph-Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Etienne (1745-1799) Montgolfier. It was painted blue and decorated in gold with the Royal cipher and signs of the Zodiac. It was approximately 75 feet high and 49 feet in diameter, with a capacity of 79,000 cubic feet. It was flown by scientist Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, accompanied by Francois Laurent, Marquis d'Arlandes (1742-1809). After taking off from the gardens of the Chateau La Muette, Bois de Boulogne, the balloon remained airborne for 25 minutes before landing safely at the Butte-aux-Cailles, about five and a half miles (8.5 km) away.