History of Aviation

Pilâtre de Rozier

Pilâtre de Rozier was a chemist living in France. In 1782 Joseph Michel Montgolfier and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier, two brothers from Annonay, France, constructed an air balloon that was lifted by lighting a cauldron of paper beneath it, and therefore heating and rarifying the air it contained. On 4th June, 1782, this hot air balloon reached a height of about 6,560 feet (2,000 m).

In 1783 the Montgolfier brothers managed to persuade Pilâtre 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 travelled 7 miles (12.1 km) in less than half an hour at the height of 3,000 feet (915 m).

Pilâtre de Rozier now decided to make his own balloon that contained both hot air and hydrogen. On 15th June, 1785, Rozier and a friend, Pierre Romain, decided to fly from Boulogne to England. At an altitude of about 2,950 feet (900 m) the hydrogen, expanded by the hot air, exploded and the two men were killed. They were the first men to lose their lives in a manned flight.

© , September 1997 - April 2014