Laetitia Sage, first English woman aeronaut, late 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Mrs Laetitia Sage became the first English woman to fly in a hot air balloon in Vincent Lunardi's ascent of 29 June 1785. Unfortunately, the combined weight of Mrs Sage and the other two pasengers, George Biggin and Colonel Hastings, was too much for the balloon. Lunardi and Hastings agreed to stay behind, allowing Mrs Sage and Biggin to continue alone. Together they flew in a red, white and blue balloon from Vauxhall Gardens in London, over St James's Park and Piccadilly, before landing over two hours later in fields near Harrow. Illustration from 'Histoire des ballons et des aeronautes celebres: 1783-1800' (History of balloons and famous aeronauts), by Gaston Tisandier (1843-1899), published in 1887.