Largest Montgolfier hot-air balloon ever made, Le Flesselle in 1784

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier with Joseph Montgolfier, he was one of six passengers on a second flight on 19 January 1784, with a huge Montgolfier balloon Le Flesselles launched from Lyon. Four French nobles paid for the trip, including a prince.

largest Montgolfier hot-air balloon ever made - Le Flesselle

On January 19, 1784, the largest Montgolfier hot-air balloon ever made, “Le Flesselle,” made an ascent at Lyons, France. This engraving depicts two scenes from the event.

Several difficulties had to be overcome. The wallpaper used to cover the balloon’s envelope became wet because of extreme weather conditions. The top of the balloon was made of sheep- or buckskin. The air was heated by wood in an iron stove: to start, the straw was set on fire with brandy. (In other tests charcoal or potatoes were used). The balloon had a volume of approximately 23,000 m³, over 10 times that of the first flight, but it only flew a short distance. The spectators kneeled down when the balloon came down too quickly. That evening the aeronauts were celebrated after listening to Gluck’s opera, Iphigénie en Tauride.

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