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Blanchard's first ascent in a balloon, 2 March 1784.

Blanchard's first ascent in a balloon, 2 March 1784.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm


A drawing of Blanchard's balloon as it was intended to ascend, carrying both Blanchard and the Benedictine monk Dom Page, and as it actually did, with him alone on board. French aeronaut Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809) travelled from the Champ de Mars in Paris to Billancourt on the Haute-de-Seine in this contraption on 2 March 1784. Called the 'Vaiseau Volant', it was an aerial adaptation of his earlier 'velocipede' (a kind of early bicycle). It had two foot treadles and two hand levers for operating four flapping wings. The aeronaut sat beneath this in a small cockpit. Blanchard was renowned for his ballooning exploits in Europe. On 7 January 1785, he and the American physician John Jeffries (1744-1819) became the first balloonists to cros the English Channel.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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