The Montgolfier hot air balloon 'Le Fleselles', 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model (scale 1:50). This balloon, made an ascent from Lyon, France, on 19th January 1784. With a capacity of 700,000 cubic feet, 'Le Fleselles' was the largest Montgolfier balloon ever made. A combination of unfavourable winter conditions, and a failure of the balloon's fabric at a point of previous damage meant that the balloon only reached a height of 3000 feet before making a somewhat rapid descent back to earth. Fortunately none of the balloon's seven occupants were injured.