James Sadler, the first English aeronaut, 1812.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving after a drawing by B Taylor. Sadler made his first balloon ascent in 1784, flying from Oxford to Woodeaton six miles away. On 7 October 1811 he set a balloon speed record when he flew from Birmingham to Boston, Lincolnshire, in under four hours. In 1812 he made a failed attempted to cros the Irish Sea, landing in the water near Anglesey where he was rescued by a pasing fishing boat. Although Sadler did not succeed, his son Windham, following in his father's footsteps, did make a succesful flight over the Irish Sea on 22 July 1817. Sadler's numerous exploits earned him the title 'King of the Balloon'.