Adventure · Uncategorized

The Conquest of the Skies

Journal de Paris, 22 November 1783

Official report drawn up at the Chateau de la Muette after the experiment with the aerostatic machine of M. Montgolfier.

On this day, 21 November 1783, at the Chateau de la Muette, an experiment with the aerostatic machine of M. Montgolfier was carried out.

The sky was, in several places, obscured by cloud, in others clear, a north-westerly wind prevailed.

At eight minutes past noon, a mortar was fired – a signal to begin the filling of the machine, within eight minutes, despite the wind, it was filled out evenly and ready to take off, with the Marquis D’ Arlandes and M. Pilatre de Rozier on the observation deck.

Their first intention was to send the machine into the air, but to restrain it at the same time with ropes in order to test it, study the precise weights it was capable of carrying and ensure that everything was as it should be for the important experiment that was about to be carried out.

But the wind caught the machine which, far from rising vertically, drifted in the direction of one of the pathways of the garden, and the ropes which were holding it down, working too violently, caused several rents to appear – one more than six feet in length. When the machine had been brought back to the platform it was repaired in less than two hours.

It left, refilled at six minutes to two, carrying the same gentlemen as before. It was seen to rise in a most majestic fashion and when it reached about 250 feet above the ground, the intrepid travelers, taking off their hats, bowed to the spectators. At that moment one experienced a feeling of fear mingled with admiration.

Soon the aerial navigators were lost from view, but the machine, floating on the horizon and displaying a most beautiful shape, climbed to at least 3,000 feet at which height it was still visible; it crossed the Seine below the gate of la Conference and, passing between the Military Academy and the Hotel des Invalides, it was borne to a position where it could be seen by all Paris.

When the travellers were satisfied with this experiment, not wishing to make a longer journey, they agreed to descend; but realizing that the wind was bearing them down upon the houses of the Rue de Seve, in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, they retained their calm and, increasing the production of gas, rose once more and continued on their way through the sky until they had passed over the outskirts of Paris.

They made a gentle descent into a field beyond the new boulevard, opposite the Croulebarbe mill, without suffering the slightest discomfort, with two-thirds of their supplies still intact; so they could, if they had wanted to, have journeyed three times as far. Their voyage had taken them 20 to 25 minutes over a distance of 4 – 5000 fathoms.

The machine measured 70 feet in height and 46 in diameter; its volume was 60,000 cubic feet and on this occasion it carried between 1,600 and 1,700 lbs in weight.

Written at the Chateau de la Muette at five o’ clock in the afternoon. Signed, the Duke of Polignac, the Duke of Guines, the Comte de Polastron, the Comte de Vaudreil, d Hunaud, Benjamin Franklin, Faujas da Saunt – Fond, Delisle and Lercy from the Academie des Sciences. AOW-043 LR

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