The first flight in a hydrogen balloon, 1 December 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Colour engraving entitled 'Descente de la Machine aerostatique', showing Charles and Robert's balloon landing at Nesle-la-Vallee in France greeted by a small crowd of onlookers, including the Duke of Chartres. Jacques Charles (1746-1823) and Noel Robert made the first manned free flight in a hydrogen balloon on 1 December 1783. The balloon set off from the gardens of the Tuilleries in Paris at 1.40pm, landing two hours later at Nesle-la-Vallee, between Nesle and Hedouville, over 27 miles (43 km) away. Robert alighted here, while Charles re-ascended in the balloon, reaching an altitude of over 9000 feet (2.7 km). The balloon carried a barometer and a thermometer on board to make measurements of the atmosphere. Published by Esnauts and Rapilly, Paris.