'The First aerial Voyage', 21 November 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Steel engraving. This balloon, designed by the French brothers Joseph-Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Etienne (1745-1799) Montgolfier, was used in the first manned free flight ascent of a hot-air balloon on 21 November 1783. The balloon was painted blue and decorated in gold with the Royal cipher and signs of the Zodiac. It was 75 feet high and 49 feet in diameter, with a capacity of 79,000 cubic feet. It was flown by the scientist Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier who was accompanied by Francois Laurent, the Marquis d'Arlandes (1742-1809). After taking off from the gardens of the Chateau La Muette in the Bois de Boulogne, on the edge of Paris, the balloon remained airborne for 25 minutes before landing safely at the Butte-aux-Cailles 8.5 km away.