Ascent of a Sheep, a Cock and a Duck. Ascent of M. Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes.
On the 19th of September 1783 Joseph Montgolfier repeated the Annonay experiment at Versailles, in the presence of the king, the queen, the court, and an immense number of spectators. The inflation was commenced at one o'clock, and completed in eleven minutes, when the balloon rose to the height of about 1500 feet, and descended after eight minutes, at a distance of about two miles, in the wood of Vaucresson. Suspended below the ballon, in a cage, had been placed a sheep, a cock, and a duck, which were thus the first aerial travelers. They were quite uninjured, except the cock, which had its right wing hurt in consequence of a kick it had received from the sheep; but this took place before the ascent. The balloon, which was painted with ornaments in oil colours, had a showy appearance.
The first human being who ascended in a balloon was M. François Pilâtre de Rozier, a young naturalist, who, two years afterwards, was killed in an attempt to cross the English Channel in a balloon. On October 15, 1783, and following days, he made several ascents (generally alone, but once with a companion, M. Girond de Villete), in a captive balloon (i.e. one attached by ropes to the ground), and demonstrated that there was no difficulty in taking up fuel and feeding the fire, which was kindled in a brazier suspended under the balloon, when in the air. The way being thus prepared for aerial navigation, on November 21, 1783, M. Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes first trusted themselves to a free fire-balloon. The experiment was made from the Jardin du Château de la Muette, in the Bois de Boulogne. The machine employed, which was a large fire-balloon, was inflated at about two o'clock, and leaving the earth at this time, it rose to a height of about 500 feet, and passing over the Invalides and the Ecole Militaire, descended beyond the Boulevards, about 9000 yards from the place of ascent, having been between twenty and twenty-five minutes in the air. The result was completely successful; and it is scarcely necessary to add, the excitement in Paris was very great.
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