'The Car of Nadar's Balloon, 1863.'
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1863 French photographer Gaspard Felix Tournachon (1820-1910), also known as Nadar, built a giant hydrogen balloon, 196 feet high, named 'Le Geant'. He succeeded in flying it twice that year, but found landing it to be something of a problem. The first flight lasted 15 miles before the balloon dropped out of the sky; the second took the balloon 400 miles over Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany before it was caught in a storm and hurtled to the ground, narrowly missing an oncoming train. During the siege of Paris 1870-1871, Nadar used a balloon to shower Prussian troops with tracts accusing them of barbarism. Illustration from 'The Crystal Palace, Sydenham: to be sold by auction...on Tuesday 28th day of November 1911', published in London by Knight, Frank & Rutley, 1911.