© Science Museum
Oil painting made c.1840 by E W Cocks, showing Blanchard's balloon leaving the coast of Dover in Kent, with Dover Castle and harbour, and an anachronistic paddlesteamer. French aeronaut Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809) was one of the foremost balloonists of his time. Together with the American physician Dr John Jeffries (1744-1819), he made the first aerial crossing of the Channel in a hydrogen balloon on 7 January 1785. The balloon they used was 27 feet (8.2 m) in diameter with a gondola suspended beneath it in which to carry the aeronauts. 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 first balloon crossing of the English Channel, 7 January 1785.