Ascent of the Montgolfiers' 'Le Gustave', Lyon, France, 4 June 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The first free flight by a woman was made by Marie Elisabeth Thible, a French opera singer, on 4 June 1784. Madame Thible made her ascent in a Montgolfier balloon, named 'Le Gustave' in honour of the Swedish King, Gustav III, who witnesed the ascent. The balloon reached a height of 8500 feet (2591m) in a flight lasting 45 minutes. 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.