Beanery Online Literary Magazine

March 1, 2008

BLANCHARD: THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL AERONAUT

Jean-Pierre Blanchard’s prominent role in the history of ballooning made him the first true professional aeronaut in a period having many more or (most often) less pure amateurs.

He was born in Les Andelys, Normandy, France, on July 4, 1753. His parents were poor. What he lacked formal education he made up for in creativity. As a youth he displayed a bent for mechanics and an interest in science, inventing a rat trap with a pistol, a velocipede, and later a hydraulic pump system that raised water 400 feet (122 meters) from the Seine River to the Chateau Gaillard. In 1769 he invented a crude bicycle.

In the 1770s his attraction to the problems of flight led to his work on designing heavier-than-air flying machines. His bird-like aerial bicycle (more…)