Hello, not an aircraft today but a balloon, but still aviation related I think 🙂 and interesting. This day, December 1st 1783 in France, J A C Charles made the first trip in a hydrogen balloon. He was accompanied by Marie-Noel Roberts, and started the flight from the Tuileries Gardens. The event was witnessed by some 400,000 people. The American scientist and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, was among those who witnessed the glorious spectacle.

Henry Cavendish had discovered hydrogen in 1766, but this was the first time anyone had used it in a large balloon. Actually, Charles had the misconception that the Montgolfiers had been filling their balloons with hydrogen instead of hot air, i.e. “Montgolfier gas.” This mistake led to the creation of a different kind of aerostat and furthered the progress of lighter-than-air craft.

The hot air balloon, with its requirement of an open fire, was rather dangerous. Hydrogen, although inflammable was completely enclosed in the balloon before liftoff. In fact the free balloon of today, though it uses the non combustible element helium in place of hydrogen, is similar in all its essentials to the balloon design of Charles.

The Charles balloon got up to 3000 feet and traveled about 16 miles in 45 minutes. The flight was successful, but so unfamiliar that it inspired terror. As Charles landed just outside Paris the local peasants, thinking that the “monster” was sent by vengeful neighbors, hurled rocks at it and destroyed the balloon

Interesting? I hope you enjoyed reading this. Have a great weekend. Michael