© Science Museum
Oil painting by Julius Ibbetson, showing Lunardi's second balloon carrying George Biggin and Mrs Sage away from the Royal George Rotunda in St George's Fields, London. Vincent (or Vincenzo) Lunardi (1759-1806), Italian secretary to the Neapolitan ambassador in London, made the first aerial ascent in a hydrogen balloon in Britain on 15 September 1784 from Moorfields, London. He had intended to take three passengers with him on this later voyage: Colonel Hastings, George Biggin, and Mrs Sage, a noted buxom beauty. However, their combined weight was too much for the balloon, so Lunardi and Hastings gallantly stood down, allowing Biggin and Mrs Sage to go on alone. Mrs Sage later published her experience as Britain's first female 'aerial traveller'.
'Mr Lunardi's New Balloon', 29 June 1785.