Blanchard's first balloon ascent, 2 March 1784.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 23cm x 32cm

Blanchard's first balloon ascent, 2 March 1784.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


A drawing of Blanchard's balloon as it actually ascended, with him alone on board. French aeronaut Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809) travelled from the Champ de Mars in Paris to Billancourt on the Haute-de-Seine in this contraption on 2 March 1784. Called the 'Vaiseau Volant', it was an aerial adaptation of his earlier 'velocipede' (a kind of early bicycle). It had two foot treadles and two hand levers for operating four flapping wings. The aeronaut sat beneath this in a small cockpit. Blanchard was renowned for his ballooning exploits throughout Europe. On 7 January 1785, he and the American physician John Jeffries (1744-1819) became the first balloonists to cros the English Channel. Dimensions: 216mm x 140mm.

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