Balloon ascent by Charles, Prairie de Nesles, France, 1 December 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustration of Charles and Noel Robert's first manned (free flight) ascent of a hydrogen balloon, designed by French physics profesor Jacques Charles (1746-1823), and constructed by brothers Jean and Noel Robert. It set off in front of a crowd of 400,000, landing two hours later at Nesle-la-Vallee, 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). From 'Histoire des ballons et des aeronautes celebres: 1783-1800' (History of balloons and famous aeronauts), by Gaston Tisandier (1843-1899), published in 1887.