The Dream of Flying

Page 21




  Marquis d'Arlandes and de Rozier make the First Aerial Voyage in History (November 21, 1783)  

After the successful demonstration at Versailles on September the 19th, Étienne, in cooperation with Réveillon, started the construction of a 2,200 m3 balloon for the purpose of carrying two persons. The aircraft was 21 meters high and 13 meters in diameter. It was weighing 500 kg. The new balloon had a wicker gallery built around the base of the balloon for the aeronauts and a fire basket suspended by chains beneath the aperture at the bottom of the globe. This made it possible for the crew to maintain the fire and thus remain longer in the air.

The light blue balloon was richly decorated. On the upper part there were fleur-de-lis and the twelve symbols of the zodiac in gold. On the middle part you could see monograms of the King, alternating with figures of the sun. The lower part showed masks, garlands and spread-eagles. Also the gallery was decorated with draperies and other ornaments.

The balloon was tested tethered for the first time on the 17th of October. Eleven more tethered tests were made, with the balloon rising up to 100 meters.

On the 21st of November it was time for the first free flight. Pilot was Jean-François de Rozier Pilâtre, a young physician, with a nobleman, the marquis d'Arlandes, as co-pilot. The flight began from the grounds of the Crown’s Prince’s palace close to the Bois de Boulogne west of Paris. They flew 1 000 meters above Paris for a distance of nine kilometres. After 25 minutes they landed the balloon between two windmills outside the city walls, on the Butte-aux-Cailles. Enough fuel remained on board at the end of the flight to have allowed the balloon to fly four to five times as far. However, burning embers from the fire were scorching the balloon fabric and had to be extinguished with wet sponges. As it appeared it could destroy the balloon, Pilâtre took even off his coat to stop the fire.

Another successful step in the history of ballooning had been taken.





Custom Search

© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2009-05-13