'Le Fleselles' hot-air balloon, January 1784.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 26cm x 32cm

'Le Fleselles' hot-air balloon, January 1784.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Coloured etching showing the only recorded flight by Joseph Montgolfier (1740-1810) at Les Brotteaux, near Lyon on 19 January 1784. After the first ascent in a hydrogen balloon by Charles (1746-1823) and Robert on 1 December 1783, the Montgolfier brothers, determined not to be outdone, returned to the South of France where they constructed a balloon of staggering proportions. Named 'Le Fleselles', in honour of the Governor of Lyons who had sponsored the project, the balloon was 131 feet high and 104 feet in diameter with a capacity of more than 700,000 cubic feet. The ascent was watched by over 100,000 people. The balloon reached a height of 3000 feet before a large tear in the fabric resulted in a rapid descent which left the seven aeronauts shaken but unhurt.

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