Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Arts and Crafts/Hot Air Balloons
The sport of hot air ballooning began when Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis D'Arlandes took off from the château de la Muette in Paris aboard a balloon built by the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph Michel and Jacques Étienne Montgolfier.
The following is a first-hand account of the flight as recorded by the marquis D'Arlandes:
- I wish to describe as well as I can the first journey which men have attempted through an element which, prior to the discovery of the Messieurs Montgolfier, seemed so little fitted to support him.
- We went up on the 21st of November, 1783, at near two o'clock. M. Rozier on the west side of the balloon, I on the east. The wind was nearly north-west. The machine, say the public, rose with majesty; but really the position of the balloon altered so that M. Rozier was in the advance of our position, I in the rear.
- I was surprised at the silence and the absence of movement which our departure caused among the spectators, and believed them to be astonished and perhaps awed at the strange spectacle; they might well have reassured themselves. I was still gazing when M. Rozier cried to me, "You are doing nothing, and the balloon is scarcely rising a fathom."
- "Pardon me," I answered, as I placed a bundle of straw upon the fire and slightly stirred it. Then I turned quickly but already we had passed out of sight of La Muette. Astonished I cast a glance towards the river. I perceived the confluence of the Oise. And naming the principal bends of the river by the places nearest them, I cried, "Passy, St. Germain, St. Denis, Sevres!"
- "If you look at the river in that fashion you will be likely to bathe in it soon," cried Rozier. "Some fire, my dear friend, some fire!"
- We traveled on; but instead of crossing he river, and our direction seemed to indicate, we bore towards the Invalides, them returned upon the principal bend of the river, and traveled to above the barrier of La Conference, thus dodging about the river, but not crossing it.
- "The river is very difficult to cross," I remarked to my companion.
- "So it seems," he answered; "but you are doing nothing. I suppose it is because you are braver than I, and don't fear a tumble."
- I stirred the fire; I seized a truss of straw with my fork; I raised it and threw it in the midst of the flames. An instant afterwards I felt myself lifted as if it were into the heavens.
- "For once we move," said I.
- "Yes, we move," answered my companion.
- At the same instant I heard from the top of the balloon a sound which made me believe that it had burst. I watched, yet I saw nothing. My companion had gone into the interior, no doubt to make some observations. A my eyes were fixed on the top of the machine I experienced a shock, and it was the only one I had yet felt. The direction of the movement was from above, downwards. I then said "what are you doing? Are you having a dance to yourself".
- "I'm not moving."
- "So much the better. It is only a new current which I hope will carry us from the river," I answered. I turned to see where we were, and found we were between the Ecole Militaire and the Invalides.
- "We are getting on," said Rozier.
- "Yes, we are travelling."
- "Let us work, let us work," said he.
- I now heard another report in the machine, which I believed was produced by the cracking of a cord. This new intimation made me carefully examine the inside of our habitation. I saw that the part that was turned towards the south was full of holes, some of which were of a considerable size.
- "It must descend," I then cried.
- "Look!" I said. At the same time I took my sponge and quietly extinguished the fire that was burning some of the holes within my reach; but at the same moment I perceived that the bottom of the cloth was coming away from the circle which surrounded it.
- "We must descend," I repeated to my companion. He looked below. "We are upon Paris," he said. "It does not matter," I answered. "Only look! is there no danger? Are you holding on well" "Yes."
- I examined from my side, and saw that I had nothing to fear. I then tried with my sponge the ropes which were within my reach. All of them held firm. Only two of the cords had broken. I then said, "We can cross Paris."'
- During this operation we were rapidly getting down to the roofs. We made more fire, and rose again with the greatest ease. I looked down, and it seemed to me we were going towards the towers of St. Sulpice; but, on rising, a new current made us quit this direction and bear more to the south. I looked to the left, and beheld a wood, which I believed to be that of the Luxembourg. We were traversing the boulevard, and I cried all at once "Get to the ground!"
- But the intrepid Rozier, who never lost his head, and who judged more surely than I, prevented me from attempting to descend. I then threw a bundle of straw on the fire. We rose again, and another current bore us to the left. We were now close to the ground, between two mills. As soon as we came near the earth I raised myself over the gallery, and leaning there with my two hands, I felt the balloon pressing softly against my head. I pushed it back, and leaped to the ground. Looking round and expecting to so see the balloon still distended, I was astonished to find it quite empty and flattened. On looking for Rozier I saw him in his shirt-sleeves creeping from under the mass of canvas that had fallen over him. Before attempting to descend he had put off his coat and placed it in the basket. After a deal of trouble we were at last all right.fr:François Laurent d'Arlandes