The first flight in a hydrogen balloon, 1 December 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Colour engraving by Sergent after his original drawing, showing Charles and Robert's balloon landing at Nesle-la-Vallee in France. Jacques Charles (1746-1823) and Noel Robert made the first manned free flight in a hydrogen balloon on 1 December 1783. They set off from the gardens of the Tuilleries in Paris at 1.40pm, landing over two hours later at Nesle-la-Vallee, between Nesle and Hedouville, over 27 miles (43km) away. Amongst those present to witness the balloon's descent were the Duke of Chartres and the Duke of Fitz-James who had followed the flight on horseback. Here, they are shown signing the 'Proces Verbal' confirming the success of the flight. Charles then re-ascended in the balloon, reaching an altitude of over 9000 feet (2.7 km).