'View from the Gates of the Palace', 1 December 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Colour engraving by Sergent after his original drawing, showing the Charles and Robert's balloon ascent on 1 December 1783. Designed by Jacques Charles (1746-1823), a French professor of physics, and constructed by the brothers Jean and Noel Robert, this balloon carried Charles and Noel Robert on the first manned free flight ascent of a hydrogen balloon. Setting off from the gardens of the Tuilleries at 1.40pm in front of a crowd of 400,000, the pair landed two hours later at Nesle-la-Vallee, between Nesle and Hedouville, over 27 miles (43 km) away. Robert alighted here, while Charles re-ascended in the balloon, reaching an altitude of over 9000 feet (2.7 km). This experience was said to have alarmed him so greatly that he resolved never to fly again.