Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, French aeronaut, late 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Blackwash silhouette vignette of Joseph-Michel Montgolfier (1740-1810). Joseph-Michel and his brother, Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier (1745-1799) were born at Balaruc-les-Bains in France. They were the sons of a wealthy paper-manufacturer. Joseph interested his brother in hydraulics and aeronautics and together they invented the hydraulic ram. They also attempted a number of experiments with hot-air balloons. In June 1783 they succeeded in lifting a balloon over 6000 feet from the ground, which travelled over a distance of one and a half miles. On 21 November 1783, the Montgolfiers staged the first manned free flight from the Chateau de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne, France.