'The Moment of Universal Hilarity', 1 December 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by H G Bertaux after a drawing by J E, showing Charles and Robert's balloon ascent outside the Palace of the Tuilleries in Paris on 1 December 1783. Designed by Jacques Charles (1746-1823), a French profesor of physics, and constructed by the brothers Jean and Noel Robert, this balloon carried Charles and Noel Robert on the first manned free flight of a hydrogen balloon. The balloon set off from the Tuilleries at 1.40pm in front of a crowd of 400,000, landing two hours later at Nesle-la-Vallee, between Nesle and Hedouville, over 27 miles (43 km) away. Robert alighted here but Charles re-ascended in the balloon, reaching an altitude of over 9000 feet (2.7 km). Dimensions: 203mm x 273mm.