Dirk Puehl’s Today’s memory
First free hot air balloon flight with human crew
Originally shared by Dirk Puehl
21 November 1783, near Paris, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent le Vieux took off in a montgolfière for the first manned flight in history.
Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier managed a small paper factory in Annonay, Ardeche, France, were both educated in natural sciences and architecture and began experimenting with balloons since the late 1770s. Allegedly, it was the unsuccessful siege of Gibraltar by land and sea in 1782 that gave Joseph-Michel the idea of transporting people through the air – to land troops. The familiar sight of flying scraps during a fire led the Mongolfier brothers to believe that smoke was a special gas attributed with something they called levity. Capturing smoke in a bag would allow the levity lift off loads attached to the balloon of the ground. Their first experiments with levity astonished them both and in June 1783, Aerostat Réveillon, 37,500-cubic-foot affair of sky blue taffeta coated with alum to make it fireproof and adorned with celestial symbols, was ready for take-off. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette enthusiastically agreed to watch the demonstration and the king actually had the endearing idea to let two condemned criminals ascend with Aerostat Réveillon, but the two inventors did not feel that safe with their contraption and decided to use Montauciel the sheep since its physiognomy was closest to a human’s – along with a duck and a cockerel. All three animals landed safely after an 8 minute flight over Versailles. Afterwards, the king gave his permission to allow human volunteers to fly in a balloon.
But read more on:
A mid-19th century trading card, celebrating the event of the first manned human flight.
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