Vincent Lunardi, Italian aeronaut and balloonist, c 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Burke after a painting by Nesmith. Vincent (or Vincenzo) Lunardi (1759-1806), Italian secretary to the Neapolitan ambasador in London, made the first aerial voyage by a hydrogen balloon in Britain, on 15 September 1784. 150,000 spectators turned out to watch the launch at Moorfields in London. Lunardi, who took his cat and his dog with him in the balloon, rose to a height of 4 miles, flew northwards and landed in a field near Ware in Hertfordshire. Lunardi performed several more ascents in Britain before leaving to continue his aerial pursuits in Europe.