'The Ascent of Charles' Balloon from the Champ de Mars', 27 August 1873.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Steel engraving showing Charles and Robert's balloon ascent from the Champ de Mars in Paris on 27 August 1783. After hearing of the Montgolfier brothers' success, Jacques Charles (1746-1823), a French professor of physics, joined forces with two local craftsmen, Jean and Noel Robert, to produce a superior balloon. The balloon they constructed (called 'The Globe') was just 12 feet in diameter. It was made of silk with an inpermeable rubberised coating, which was intended to contain the lifting gas hydrogen. Upon its release, the balloon rose 3000 feet in the air before falling to the ground near Gonesse 15 miles (24 km) away, whereupon terrified villagers, believing it to be the devil, set upon it and tore it to shreds.