The Dream of Flying

Page 17




  Blanchard's Vaisseau Volant (1781- 1783)  

Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753 - 1809) became later one of the most important pioneers among the balloon flyers. He was fascinated of flying since his childhood. He studied the flight of the birds and made own experimental aircraft in his fathers workshop. But his designs according to the principle “heavier-than-air” had no success.

His most famous try was the amphibious "Vaisseau Volant" ornithopter from 1781. The shape remained of a space capsule. It had four wings that were attached to the light car or “capsule” and had a large rudder at the rear. The pilot sat inside, controlling the wings with his hand and foot pedals and levers. As usual for muscular powered aircraft, Blanchard was never able to get off the ground by own force. To test the aircraft he hanged it at a counterweight so it got up seven metres from the ground. The airship was exhibited in Paris at Hôtel de la rue Turenne 1781 - 1783. Some years later on, he applied the capsule under a spherical balloon and continued the tests.


Left: Portrait of
Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753 - 1809)


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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2009-05-13