Original copper-plate engraving of the first Montgolfier balloon. French paper-makers Joseph Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Etienne (1745-1799) Montgolfier were amongst the first to succesfully exploit the idea of the hot-air balloon. They began their experiments by inflating paper balloons using the hot air produced by straw fires. After constructing a large linen balloon, they gave the first public demonstration of ballooning at Annonay on 5 June 1783. They then built an even larger balloon which included a gallery for aeronauts. After conducting tests with animals, the first tethered flights with humans began, and on 21 November 1783, the Montgolfiers staged the first manned free flight from the Chateau de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne, France.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library