'Nadar's Giant Balloon at Paris', 1863-1867.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Printed woodcut from 'The Illustrated London News'. This giant balloon was built by Godard for the French photographer and aeronaut, Felix Tournachon (1820-1910), better known as 'Nadar', in 1863. Named 'Le Geant', it stood 196 feet tall and had a capacity of 212,000 cubic feet. The balloon car was even more remarkable. It was 13 feet long with a balustraded balcony and was divided into six separate compartments, which included a lavatory and a room for Nadar's photography equipment. Nadar succeeded in flying it twice in its maiden year. The first flight on 4 October lasted 15 miles before the balloon dropped out of the sky, while the second on 18 October took it 400 miles over Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany before a storm forced the balloon to land.