Eugene Godard's Large Fire Balloon
Directly after Nadar's two balloon ascents, M. Eugene Godard constructed what was perhaps the largest aerial machine that has ever been made. It was a Montgolfier or fire-balloon, of nearly half-a-million cubic feet capacity (more than double the capacity of Nadar's). The balloon Flesselles, 1783, is said to have slightly exceeded this size. The air was heated by an 18 feet stove, weighing, with the chimney, 980 lb. This furnace was fed by straw; and the "car" consisted of a gallery surrounding it. Two ascents of this balloon were made from Cremorne gardens, on July 20 and July 28, 1864. after the first journey the balloon descended at Greenwich, and after the second at Walthamstow, where it was injured by being blown against a tree. Notwithstanding the enormous size of the balloon, M. Godard asserted that it could be inflated in half an hour, and the inflation at Cremorne did not occupy more than an hour. The ascent of the balloon was a very striking sight, the flames roaring up the chimney of the furnace into the enormous globe above. The trusses of straw were suspended by ropes from the gallery below the car, and were drawn up and placed in the furnace as required. This was the first fire-balloon seen by the inhabitants of London, and it was the second ascent of this kind that had been made in this country, Mr. Sneath's ascent at Mansfield having been the first, as Mr. Tytler's experiment at Edinburgh in 1784 was a leap, not an ascent, as no source of heat was taken up. in spite of the rapidity with which the inflation was effected, few who saw the ascent could fail to receive an impression most favourable to the gas-balloon in the matter of safety, as a rough descent, with a heated furnace as it were in the car, could not be other than most dangerous.
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