Charles and Robert's first balloon ascent, 27 August 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Print entitled 'Experience de la machine aerostatique', showing Charles and Robert's balloon ascent from the Champ de Mars in Paris on 27 August 1783. After hearing of the Montgolfier brothers' succes, Jacques Charles (1746-1823), a French profesor of physics, joined forces with two local craftsmen, Jean and Noel Robert, to produce a superior balloon. The balloon they constructed (called 'The Globe') was just 12 feet in diameter. It was made of silk with an inpermeable rubberised coating, which was intended to contain the lifting gas hydrogen. Upon its release, the balloon rose 3000 feet in the air before falling to the ground near Gonese 15 miles (24 km) away, whereupon terrified villagers, believing it to be the devil, set upon it and tore it to shreds.