Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon at Versailles, 19 September, 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Monochrome print. Joseph Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Etienne (1745-1799) Montgolfier were 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, and gave the first public demonstration of ballooning on 5 June 1783. This ascent was made on 19 September 1783 in front of the King and Queen of France and more than 130,000 spectators. The balloon, named 'Le Martial', was set adrift carrying a sheep, a cock and a duck to investigate the effect of flying on living creatures. The first tethered flights with humans began in October, and on 21 November 1783, the Montgolfiers staged the first manned free flight from the Chateau de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne.