Tag Archives: balloon

A Balloon Tragedy – The First Air Accident

This week’s prompt from Charli at the Carrot Ranch is

March 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a balloon. It can be a party balloon or a hot air balloon. How does it add to your story? Go where the prompt leads.


As readers of my blog will realise, I am fascinated by the early history of flight, so could hardly pass on this prompt. However instead of an inspiring, or amusing, tale, I have decided to retell the story of the first air accident and it’s tragic aftermath.

V0040874 A hot-air balloon in flight with a fire burning. Coloured en

“I’m frightened.” She looked up at the strange shaped balloon, rising over Calais.

“Don’t worry, he is the most experienced balloonist in the world.”

“But to risk everything, especially now.” Her hands moved automatically to her swelling belly.

Then above, in terrible silence, the balloon seemed to break apart.

She cried out and collapsed, by the time they found his body she, and her unborn child, had died.

The death of the first man to fly, in the first fatal air accident, had destroyed his entire family.

From now on the pioneers could not dismiss the dangers they faced.


Terrible and true, Pilâtre de Rozier had made the first flight in a balloon on November 21st 1783. On June 15th 1785 whist trying to cross the English Channel his balloon broke up in flight and he became the first man to be killed in an air accident. His death was witnessed by his pregnant fiancée who died shortly afterwards.




Filed under Georgian, Historical tales

The Paper Magicians – An Historical Tale

There was certainly an impressive audience for whatever was to happen. No one knew what the two men in the middle of the square were trying to do. Some people said it was magic, certainly the way the two men were carefully tending a fire under a huge paper bag looked diabolical.
The bag was filling with smoke, and it was moving!, perhaps there was a demon in the bag.
One of the men called to the other, a rope was cut – somebody screamed and fainted as bag rose above the crowd!
The conquest of the air had begun.

V0040878 A huge crowd watches from the streets as a hot-air balloon t

In 1783 the Montgolfier brothers launched their first balloon from a square in Paris.

This is in response to Charlie Mills flash fiction challenge, in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story including an audience. Hope you enjoy it.


Filed under Georgian, Historical tales

First Flight or The Baby’s first steps

The morning was cold, but bright, perfect for the flight. Slowly the balloon was inflated until, just after noon, it bobbed over the castle square in Chester. Mr Baldwin checked the equipment he had installed in the car, then climbed aboard. He listened to a few final instructions from the aeronaut, then was released. As he shot upwards he felt his feet pressed down to the floor, the first of the many new sensations he was to feel that day – for the year was 1785, the balloon was only two years old, the number of people who had flown had only recently reached double figures, and he was to be the first scientist to take to the air.

As the rate of ascent steadied he bent to his equipment, measuring temperature and air pressure. The aeronauts who had ascended before him had gone into raptures at the sight of the earth from above, and he didn’t want to be distracted from his record keeping. As soon as he had taken his first readings, he looked over the side and gasped – he hadn’t expected it to be so wonderful. For a moment he stood in wonder, then began to make notes.

Chester looked blue!, after a moment he realised that this was because of the slate roofs, the river Mersey looked reddish, perhaps because of the mud. And the clouds, he was looking down on clouds! He pulled out his sketch block and began to draw, no one had ever drawn clouds from above before.


So it went on, observation after observation, he rose to more than a mile high, he tested out the strangest theories, did such height affect taste, he tried pepper, salt and ginger ( there was no change ).

Four hours after he took off he finally descended, his notebooks full of information. He was to spend the next six months writing up his notes, his book Airopaidia became an instant best seller.


He included a drawing of the counties of Cheshire and Lancashire seen from above. This was the first such aerial view ever produced, and came with instructions on how to look at it.

The View is seen to the best Advantage, when placed flat on a Table or Chair, and rather in the Shade: the Eye looking directly down upon the Picture. Whoever will be at the Trouble of viewing distinct Parts of the Balloon-Prospect, throu’ a very small Opening, made by rolling a Sheet of Paper into the Form of a hollow Tube, and applying it close to either Eye, at the same Time shutting the other; or by looking throu’ the Hand, held a little open, and close to the Eye; may form a very accurate Idea of the Manner, in which the Prospect below was represented gradually in Succession, to the Aironaut;

In 1783 Benjamin Franklin had seen the first balloon rise over Paris. Someone him asked him what use it could be, he famously replied.

“What use is a new-born babe?”

Two years later, over Cheshire, the baby had taken its first steps.


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Filed under Georgian, Historical tales