Sadler's balloon over Dublin, Ireland, 1 October 1812.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Coloured print. James Sadler was an ingenious inventor and became the first English aeronaut after his balloon ascent from Oxford on 4 October 1784. He made several more ascents before retiring in 1785 to devote his energies to improving the steam engine. He was encouraged back to the skies 25 years later, taking up the challenge of crosing the Irish sea by balloon in 1812. For this, Sadler built a large balloon, the 'Erin-go-bragh', with a 55 feet diameter and a capacity of 87,114 cubic feet. The ascent began from Belvedere House in Drumcondra, Ireland, and proceeded well until he encountered strong winds which blew him out to sea. Despite his efforts to change direction, he was forced to land in the sea and was later rescued by the herring trawler 'Victory'.