Death of Pilatre de Rozier, 15 June 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The world's first aerial disaster occurred when the French scientist and aeronaut, Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, (1754-1785), made an ill-fated attempt to cros the English Channel. The balloon he was in caught fire in mid-air and crashed to the ground, whereupon De Rozier was killed. 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.