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Blanchard's Balloon and Steering Apparatus

 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000341


  • Creation: 1833 June 29

Conditions Governing Use

Access to the Theodore Newton Vail Collection of Aeronautical Images, Broadsides and Clippings is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.

Biographical / Historical

Jean-Pierre Francois Blanchard and John Jeffries, an American doctor, made the first trip across the English Channel in a hydrogen balloon on January 7, 1785. The balloon ascended from a cliff top near Dover Castle and descended in Calais 2.5 hours later.

During this trip, the balloon unexpectedly lost gas and almost fell into the Channel. Only by throwing all of their ballast and most of their clothing into the Channel did they manage to stay in the air. The two aeronauts were forced to heave all cargo overboard except the package of the first international airmail, delivered successfully upon their safe landing in the Felmores Forest, France.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Originals

Box 16

Physical Description



8.0 x 7.8 cm(2-image column), 6.6 x 7.8 cm(1-image column), 14.4 x 8.5 cm(text-only column)

General Note

Clipping from a 1833 Saturday Magazine article on ballooning history, detailing Jean-Pierre Francois Blanchard's first ascent and Blanchard and Dr. John Jeffries's voyage across the English Channel from Dover to Calais. An illustration shows images of Blanchard's balloons and steering apparatus.

Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

The Birth of Flight: NASM Collections, Inventory number: A19772701000, Accessed June 10, 2010,

Crouch, Tom D., The Eagle Aloft, Two Centuries of the Balloon in America (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1983), 84-94

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
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Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US