'Mr Lunardi's Ascent from the Artillery Ground in his Balloon', 13 May 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Watercolour painting. 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 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 go alone. The balloon became defective shortly after leaving Moorfields in London and Lunardi was forced to land 30 minutes later at Tottenham Court Road. He performed several more ascents before leaving Britain to continue his aerial pursuits in Europe.