'An exact Representation of Mr Lunardi's New Balloon', 13 May 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving. Vincent (or Vincenzo) Lunardi (1759-1806), Italian secretary to the Neapolitan ambasador in London, made the first aerial voyage in a hydrogen balloon in Britain on 15 September 1784. His next balloon (pictured) was decorated with the Union Jack as a token of gratitude to the English for their support. Lunardi had intended to take the Lady Sage with him on this voyage, as well as his regular companion George Biggin, but the balloon did not have enough lift and he was forced to make the ascent alone. The balloon became defective shortly after leaving Morrfields and Lunardi was forced to land after les than 30 minutes near Tottenham Court Road. He performed several more ascents before leaving Britain to continue his aerial pursuits in Europe.