'Tour de Calais'; the ascent of De Rozier's 'Royal Balloon', 15 June 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Echard after his original drawing, showing the balloon used by De Rozier in his ill-fated attempt to cros the English Channel. French scientist and aeronaut, Jean-Francois Pilatre De Rozier, took part in the Montgolfier's first manned free flight ascent in a hot-air balloon on the 21 November 1783. He wanted to be the first to fly the English channel but was beaten to this goal by Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809), who made the first succesful crosing on 7 January 1785. De Rozier's balloon was a combination of a hydrogen balloon and a hot-air balloon, and De Rozier himself expresed doubts about its design. After an unsteady ascent, the balloon caught fire in mid-air, crashing near Boulogne and killing both De Rozier and his pasenger, Romain.