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The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation 1783-1784

The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation 1783-1784: With a Word on the Importance of Ballooning for the Science of Heat and the Art of Building Railroads

Charles Coulston Gillispie
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation 1783-1784
    Book Description:

    This vividly illustrated book introduces the reader to the brothers Montgolfier, who launched the first hotair balloon in Annonay, France on 4 June 1783.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5520-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
    (pp. 3-24)

    On Wednesday, 4 June 1783, rain marred the day in Annonay, a small city in the northern tip of the region called the Vivarais. Even so, people began gathering late in the morning in the Place des Cordeliers, the lower square from which a single-arched bridge traversed the river Deûme, a swift little stream that rushes into the slightly larger and slower Cance a short way further down (Fig. 1). In the middle of the square a pair of brothers directed four husky laborers in the construction of a wooden scaffold. Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, forty-three and thirty-eight years old...

  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 25-66)

    On 10 July, the day before Etienne departed Vidalon, the first published word of the balloon appeared in Paris. TheFeuille Hebdomadaireprinted an extract from a letter written by a landowner near Annonay. It was neither good-natured nor accurate, and allowed only that the Montgolfiers had put on a truly curious show. They had fabricated a contrivance of cloth and paper shaped like a shed 36 x 16 x 16 feet, and lifted it off the ground by means of heat. When the thing filled with smoke, it went up like a rocket. The apparition terrified his peasants and...

    (pp. 67-94)

    Throughout December 1783 the Academy of Science occupied itself with reaching provisional judgments upon the accomplishments of the past half-year in aviation and with planning for its development in the future. The commission named in July, though appointed to consider the Montgolfier invention, had naturally included the Charles balloons within its purview. Its members had attended all the experiments and demonstrations except the test in early October when Etienne privately tried the balloon himself. Among the eight commissioners, the two who counted for most were Lavoisier and Desmarest, Lavoisier because of his preeminence in science and his influence with government,...

    (pp. 95-137)

    At noontime on 2 March 1784 Etienne was once again in the Champ de Mars amid a throng gathered to observe the experiment of a competitor, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who once again was employing the competing system of inflammable air.¹ The spirit of the occasion, however, was very different from anything that had gone before. In Blanchard we meet with the first of the barnstormers. He put on numerous ascensions—it is disputed whether the eventual number was fifty-nine or sixty—before his death of natural causes in 1809. Is he to be called a professional aviator? At all events, he...

    (pp. 138-177)

    In 1839 Marc Seguin published a large book on the importance and construction of railroads,De l’influence des chemins de fer et de l’art de les tracer et de les construire.He had recently built the first to be completed in France. It led sixty kilometers from Lyons to Saint-Etienne, across the divide between the valleys of the Rhône and of the Loire, and opened for business in 1833, carrying coal and in the next year passengers. Among other surprises, for the book is not a work of physics, is the tabulation of data that yield a very good value...

    (pp. 178-179)
    (pp. 180-180)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 181-197)
    (pp. 198-200)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 201-210)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-211)