'Blanchard's Descent', 2 March 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Steel engraving showing Blanchard descending in his balloon to the alarm of local people, one of whom aims a gun at him. French aeronaut Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809) first travelled in this contraption, known as the 'Vaiseau Volant', on 2 March 1784. It was an aerial adaptation of his earlier 'velocipede' (a kind of early bicycle) with two foot pedals and two hand levers for operating four flapping wings. Blanchard's fourth aerial voyage in the 'Vaiseau Volant', and his first in Britain, was from Lochee's Military Academy in Chelsea on 16 October 1784. He carried one pasenger, Sheldon, his dog and a basket of pigeons with him on this voyage. Blanchard came down once at Sunbury where Sheldon alighted, and then reascended, finally landing at Romsey, 73 miles (118 km) away.