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Blanchard Jeffries Balloon - $$5.95

A reporter noted a certain solemnity in the first moments of flight: "When the balloon began to rise, the majestical sight was truly interesting....Indeed the attention of the multitude was so absorbed that it was a considerable time e'er silence was broke."

Jean Blanchard and Dr Jeffries Hydrogen Balloon downloadable cardmodel

Jean Blanchard and Dr Jeffries Hydrogen Balloon Model

blanchard balloon Jean Pierre Blanchard, French aeronaut, and Dr. John Jeffries, of Boston made the first successful voyage by air across the English Channel on January 7, 1783.

The story of the flight is one of the most dramatic in the annals of aviation history. Hundreds of people watched the two brave men rise from Dover, England, in a hydrogen balloon and soar across the water. They carried only 30 pounds of ballast, and Blanchard was doubtful of the balloon's ability to carry two passengers. Only on the pledge that he would jump over- board if necessary, was Dr. Jeffries -- the financier of the venture -- permitted to go.

What people say...

Thank you for sending the 3 balloons. The colors of the Blanchard are magnificent. Derek really has it! I don't know how you can keep track of everything... it must be a full time job. You are a great team, I am sure... les trois Mousquetaires de l'Arizona!

I always had an hidden 'penchant' for mesh stockings... and that I really go for the 'meshing' on his balloons... Jacques de Quebec.

Jean Blanchard and Dr Jeffries Hydrogen Balloon Model from

Jean Pierre Francois Blanchard was born in Les Andelys, France, on 4th July, 1753. He became interested in science and invented a variety of devices such as a velocipede. Later a hydraulic pump system that raised water 400 feet from the Seine River to the Chateau Gaillard.

In the 1770s, Blanchard worked on designing heavier-than-air flying machines, including one based on a theory of rowing in the air currents with oars and a tiller.

Blanchard was inspired by the success of Joseph Michel Montgolfier and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier, in constructing an air balloon. In 1783 the Montgolfier brothers managed to persuade Pil'tre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes to became the first people to take part in a manned balloon flight. In November, 1783, the two men traveled 7 miles in less than half an hour at the height of 3,000 feet.

Blanchard constructed his own balloon and it took its first flight on 2nd March, 1784. On 7th January, 1785, Blanchard and the American doctor, John Jeffries, became the first people to cross the English Channel by air balloon when they traveled from Dover to Calais.

In 1785 Blanchard carried out the first successful parachute experiment. He placed a small animal in a small basket attached to a parachute. This was then dropped from a air balloon and the descent was so slow that the animal survived the fall.

On January 9, 1793, Blanchard made the first ever balloon ascent in North America. He carried a letter from President George Washington from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and therefore created the idea of air mail. Blanchard also made the first balloon flights in Germany, Belgium, Poland, and the Netherlands. In February 1808, Blanchard suffered a heart attack on a flight over The Hague in the Netherlands and fell more than 50 feet. He never recovered from the fall and died on March 7, 1809.

The First Aviation Scandal!!
blanchard sketchBlanchard treated his benefactors extremely badly. When Dr John Sheldon paid for a flight, to carry himself and his scientific instruments, Blanchard threw the equipment out to enable the balloon to climb more quickly. Another scientific traveler, a Boston-born American named Dr John Jeffries who had qualified in England, and who was interested in meteorology, managed to compete a flight with Blanchard without having his possessions thrown overboard, and undertook to pay the costs of a balloon flight across the English Channel to France.

In Blanchard's eyes, this generosity was no guarantee that the doctor would actually be able to take part in the flight, and share the glory. In December 1784 he took his balloon to coastal Dover, but succeeded in barricading himself inside Dover Castle and locking Jeffries out. The resourceful Jeffries recruited a squad of sailors as extra muscle, and then enlisted the services of the castle governor to negotiate an agreement between the two balloonists.

Nevertheless, Blanchard was far from finished. When the inflated balloon - carrying a gondola packed with Blanchard's own steering gear, consisting of wing paddles and a hand-turned fan to act as a propeller-was tested for lift with the two men aboard, it was found to be too heavy to take off. Blanchard generously offered to make the flight alone, but Jeffries was suspicious enough to inspect the Frenchman's clothing, only to find he was wearing a leather belt under his coat -- with a set of heavy lead weights.

Blanchard and Dr Jeffries cross the English Channel by air :

Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809) played a prominent part in the history of ballooning and must be considered the first true professional aeronaut in a period with many other more or (most often) less pure amateurs. Blanchard was born in Normandy of poor parentage and lacked much formal education, but he soon displayed a bent for mechanics. Before long he was attracted by the problems of flight and built a kind of bird-like aerial bicycle with flapping wings - which, however, never did fly. The balloon achievements of the Montgolfier brothers and Charles inspired him to try a combination of the lifting power of the balloon with flapping wings for propulsion. He conducted a number of experiments along these lines in the spring and summer of 1784, but they did not attract much attention. In the autumn of that year he left for London, where he quickly became the central figure in a small group of balloon enthusiasts numbering, among others, the American Dr. John Jeffries.

In June 1785 Blanchard carried out the first experiments with parachutes in Great Britain, by dropping from his balloon a small parachute made of silk to which a cat was attached. Afterwards Blanchard maintained that he had made two parachute jumps himself in 1777 and 1793 respectively, but he never substantiated these claims with valid evidence.

Blanchard made his first successful balloon ascent in London on 16 October 1784, when he was accompanied by one of his patrons, Dr John Sheldon. This trip finally convinced Blanchard that neither the wings he had brought along nor his newly-developed 'moulinet' (a kind of revolving air screw) contributed to the lift or provided any propulsion.

After making some joint balloon ascents Blanchard and Dr Jeffries decided to attempt to be the first to cross the English Channel by air. Although Jeffries footed all the bills in connection with this plan, Blanchard connection with this plan, Blanchard tried in underhanded ways to leave his sponsor behind, because he did not wish to share the honor of such an achievement with others. The American doctor must have been good-natured to have put up with all the wily tricks of the irascible little Frenchman. At the end of 1784 the balloon and the equipment for production of its hydrogen were brought to Dover Castle, where the filling of the balloon took place. When weighed off with the two participants in the basket, to everybody's surprise the lift proved less than calculated - until Blanchard was found out. His ego was deflated when he had to decrease his 'own' weight by the removal of an abdominal leather belt filled with lead, with which he had fortified himself for the occasion.

blanchard and his "flying Bicycle"It was a clear and calm day, with only a slight north-north-westerly breeze, when the balloon took off from the edge of the cliffs of Dover at 1 p.m. on 7 January 1785. The balloon was heavily laden with much superfluous equipment, even including Blanchard's useless wings. The ballast was spent quickly, and soon everything else, even most of their clothes, was dropped, whether it could really be spared or not. Dr Jeffries confided later to friends that in their frantic efforts to lighten the balloon there was at one point a ludicrous angle to it 'when they did their utmost to relieve themselves as much as possible. One is tempted to speculate whether similar minute, sober, yet practical effects may not have converted other sublime, historical events similarly from disaster to triumph. Anyhow, Blanchard and Dr Jeffries managed to stay in the air and at 3 p.m. gained the French coast to land in the midst of the Felmores forest outside Calais, where their balloon was brought to a stop by a tree; help was soon at hand. On this spot marble monument was later erected, crowned with a balloon. Their balloon basket is to this day on display at a museum in Calais, which made them honorary citizens.

Upon his return to London Blanchard tried to cash in on his fame by the establishment of what he termed an 'Aeronautical Academy with various displays. This proved only a qualified success, so he decided to return to France. In the years from 1785 to 1789. Blanchard ascended in both hot-air and hydrogen balloons in various countries on the Continent, where such an event was often still a novelty. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, Blanchard was arrested by the Austrians in Tyrol and charged with the distribution of revolutionary propaganda literature. He managed to escape to America where, on 9 January 1793, he made the first balloon voyage in the New World at Philadelphia in the presence of George Washington, the President of the United States. Blanchard returned to France in 1798 and continued his aeronautical career. In February 1808, at The Hague in Holland, he made a hot-air balloon ascent and on this sixtieth and last air voyage of his suffered a heart attack from which he never fully recovered. On 7 March 1809 he passed away peacefully in Paris, well aware of the fact that he would go down in history as one of the true pioneers of ballooning.

To supplement the record of Blanchard, his widow Madeleine-Sophie became an aeronaut in her own right. In the years following his death this slender little woman became a favorite of the Parisians, thanks to her colorful balloon ascents, often at night, to the accompaniment of fireworks. On 7 July 1819 Madame - Blanchard herself met her death, during an ascent from the Tivoli park in Paris when her balloon caught fire from the fireworks she carried aloft. She made a rough landing on the roof of a house in the Rue de Province and then plunged to the ground.

More on Blanchard and Jeffries

Boats cheer Blanchard and JefferiesAt least landings were possible at the end of all these early flights, as they had taken place over dry land. One man who set out to change all this was a ferociously ambitious Frenchman named Jean-Pierre Blanchard. He had invented a crude bicycle in 1769, but then tried to extend his talents to producing a pedal-powered flying machine. Refusing to let facts interfere with a good story, he claimed to have flown at a height of 80 feet, and at an amazing speed of 75 m.p.h. Blanchard also claimed to have invented a parachute, and to have made two successful jumps, but there is little doubt these two claims were as false as the flying machine.

What Blanchard did was make his first flight in a hydrogen balloon from the Champ de Mars in Paris on 2 March 1784. He also flew from Rouen, and from Bordeaux, but the French ballooning scene was now so crowded, there was little chance of winning the fame he sought so desperately. In August 1784 he moved to the more promising surroundings of London, where a man with his own balloon could find many wealthy patrons willing to pay handsomely for the chance of a flight.

Blanchard's most spectacular exploit was an attempt to cross the English Channel to his native France, sponsored by Dr John Jeffries, an American with a practice in London. They took off on the morning of 7 January 1785. Although they dropped all their ballast overboard by the time the French coast was but a few miles away, the balloon never climbed to a safe altitude, and it seemed they would come down in the sea. Frantically, the two men began jettisoning everything they could.

First to go were the extravagant gondola decorations, followed by Blanchard's steering gear.
Then followed the anchors, the two men's coats, and then their trousers. The remedy worked when they were skimming the waves, and the balloon climbed higher than ever before, to cross the French coast and finally deposit its passengers safely on earth 12 miles inland, in the Forest of Felmores, dressed only in their underwear. It was a splendid achievement. Blanchard was given a prize by Louis XVI and a life pension, but Jeffries had to be content with the glory alone.

Blanchard used his new-found means to set up a ballooning school in London. After one flight, he claimed to have returned precisely to his starting point, to prove his skill at balloon flying. In fact the balloon had landed some way away, and had been towed back to the start by two horsemen. He made other equally untrue claims, and in the end a disappointed crowd wrecked the school.

Farmers watch Jefferies and Charles
Farmers watch the Blanchard-Jefferies balloon entering France

More on Blanchard's Balloon:

While Europe was being entertained with one spectacular aerial feat after another, the United States was too busily engaged in establishing its independence to be much concerned with experiments in flight. It was not until January 9, 1793 that Americans witnessed the first ascension in Philadelphia when Blanchard, Europe's leading balloonist, made a flight of 45 minutes. His ascension had the approval and support of President Washington who saw the spectacle with members of his Cabinet.

Blanchard/Jeffries Hydrogen Balloon:blanchard jeffreis balloon hydrogen

Jean Pierre Blanchard, French aeronaut, and Dr. John Jeffries, of Boston made the first successful voyage by air across the English Channel on January 7, 1783.

The story of the flight is one of the most dramatic in the annals of aviation history. Hundreds of people watched the two brave men rise from Dover, England, in a hydrogen balloon and soar across the water. They carried only 30 pounds of ballast, and Blanchard was doubtful of the balloon's ability to carry two passengers. Only on the pledge that he would jump over- board if necessary, was Dr. Jeffries -- the financier of the venture -- permitted to go.

After they were out of view of land the balloon threatened again and again to go down. The two airmen threw out all ballast and in desperation removed all movable objects, such as ropes, the silken wings use to guide the craft, even to the decorations of the balloon. Finally they cast off their clothing and put on the cork life-savers to be ready to jump. A gust of wind, however, carried them up when all seemed lost, and they were in sight of the coast of France. The flight was successful!

Madam Blanchard falls
Madam Blanchard met an untimely death when her balloon caught fire during a demonstration in Paris