Blanchard's design for the 'Vaiseau Volant' balloon, 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Colour print entitled 'Remarque sur le Balon aerostatique de M Blanchard comme il etait projette', showing the main design elements of Blanchard's 'Vaiseau Volant'. 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. It was an aerial adaptation of his earlier 'velocipede' (a kind of early bicycle). It consisted of a small basket suspended from a parachute-like device attached to a hydrogen balloon. It had two foot pedals and two hand levers for operating four flapping wings. Blanchard was renowned for his ballooning exploits throughout Europe. On 7 January 1785, he became the first balloonist to cros the English Channel.