'The Wreck of the 'Geant'', 19 October 1863.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Steel engraving showing the Geant balloon crashing near the village of Rethem in Germany on 19 October 1863. This giant balloon belonging to the French photographer and aeronaut, Felix Tournachon (1820-1910), better known as 'Nadar', stood 196 feet tall with a capacity of 212,000 cubic feet of gas. The balloon car was remarkable. It was 13 feet long with a balustraded balcony, a lavatory and a printing pres. On 18 October 1863, the balloon ascended with Nadar, his wife and seven other pasengers from the Champ de Mars in Paris, watched by Napoleon III. The balloon travelled 400 miles over France, Belgium and the Netherlands before arriving in Germany the next morning, where it was caught in a storm and hurtled to the ground at Rethem, narrowly mising an oncoming train.