The first flight in a hydrogen balloon, 1 December 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Coloured print entitled 'Descente de la Machine aerostatique', showing Charles and Robert's balloon landing at Nesle-la-Vallee in France watched by a small crowd of onlookers. Jacques Charles (1746-1823) and Robert made history on 1 December 1783 when they made the first manned free flight in a hydrogen balloon. The balloon set off from the gardens of the Tuilleries in Paris at 1.40pm, landing two hours later at Nesle-la-Vallee, between Nesle and Hedouville, over 27 miles (43 km) away. Robert alighted there, while Charles re-ascended in the balloon, reaching an altitude of over 9000 feet (2.7 km). The balloon carried a barometer and a thermometer on board to make measurements of the atmosphere at a height above the ground.