Origins of the Aerostat (1780s)


Reynald ABAD

Jean-Pierre Blanchard’s flight in an aerostat in Nuremberg on November 12, 1787. © BnF.The invention of the aerostat in France in 1783 was a major event in the history of the conquest of the air. However, the tremendous enthusiasm prompted by this machine on a European scale, especially when it came to flight experiments conducted before giant crowds in many cities, makes it a key moment in the history of the relationship between society and modernity. Never before had a technological or scientific invention had such a considerable impact on the public, since the aerostat for the first time coupled the resounding triumph of human progress with collective experience in the form of spectacle.