Official notice to spectators at a balloon ascent, 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In the early days of ballooning it was common for large crowds to gather to watch the extraordinary phenomenon of flight. Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809), the pioneering French aeronaut, was renowned throughout Europe for his ballooning exploits. This official notice was written to warn spectators of traffic regulations set up in preparation for Blanchard's balloon ascent from the Grindbrunnen grounds in Frankfurt, Germany, on 17 September 1785. In January of the same year, Blanchard and the American physician John Jeffries (1744-1819) had become the first balloonists to cross the English Channel. Later, on 9 January 1793, Blanchard was to become the first aeronaut to make a balloon flight in the United States.