Saturday, 14 December 2019


Excuse my dotage if this is a repeat observation as it’s one of those coincidences that I would have thought I would have written about before but can find no evidence to demonstrate that I did, despite a strong feeling of presque vu, but strikes me as an interesting quirk of history that the first reliably documented achievement of human flight took place on this day in 1782 in an experiment conducted Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, with an albeit unmanned hot air balloon rising aloft and traveling a distance of two kilometres before landing.
Less than a year later, they demonstrated their accomplishment—this time with a manifest of a sheep, a rooster and a duck that returned safely to the ground (going against the king’s suggestion of sending up convicted prisoners), to the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, with two humans taking a test flight on 21 November 1783. The distinction of being the first human passengers did not go to the Brothers Montgolfier themselves but rather to the chemistry teacher Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and army officer François Laurent d’Arlandes. Leap forward to the winter of 1903 when on the same day (maybe there is something about that time-frame) the Wright Brothers (see previously) made their first trail with their Wright Flyer at the Kill Devil Hills outside of the town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The first flight of a heavier-than-air, powered craft came five days later.