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Blanchard’s dirigible balloon, 1784

Blanchard’s dirigible balloon, 1784.jpg Car of Nadar’s balloonThumbnailsThe BastilleCar of Nadar’s balloonThumbnailsThe Bastille

The first attempts at balloon propulsion could not be seriously regarded by trained engineers, even at the inception of aëronautics; but still, as infantile steps in the new art, they may deserve passing notice.

Blanchard, on March 2, 1784, made the first real effort to steer a balloon, using for that purpose a spherical gas bag and car provided with aërial oars and a rudder. As he was about to ascend, however, from the Champs de Mars, a young officer with drawn sword persisted in accompanying the pilot, thus compelling Blanchard to leave his wings on earth to allow sufficient buoyancy for himself and his obtrusive guest. His first trial was, therefore, frustrated; but subsequent ones made with that inadequate contrivance also proved futile under the best circumstances; for the scheme was evidently puerile, though tried by various grown-up men besides M. Blanchard.

Aërial Navigation
A Popular Treatise on the Growth of Air Craft and on Aëronautical Meteorology
By Albert Francis Zahm
Published in 1911
Available from gutenberg.org