'Blanchard and Jeffries crosing the Channel', c 1785.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting on panel showing the first Channel crosing by air. French aeronaut, Jean Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809), and American physician, Dr John Jeffries (1744-1819), made the first aerial crosing of the English Channel in a hydrogen balloon on 7 January 1785. Taking off from Dover in Kent shortly after midday, they landed in the Foret de Guines, not far from Calais, approximately four and a half hours later. The balloon they used was 27 feet (8.2 m) in diameter with a gondola suspended beneath it in which to carry the aeronauts. Famed throughout Europe for his ballooning pursuits, Blanchard also became the first person to fly a balloon in the United States on 9 January 1793.