Jean-Pierre Blanchard

Jean-Pierre Blanchard

Infobox Person
name = Jean-Pierre Blanchard

image_size = 200px
caption = Jean-Pierre Blanchard
birth_name =
birth_date = 4 July 1753
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death_date = Death date and age|1809|7|3|1753|7|4
death_place = The Hague
death_cause = fell from a balloon
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nationality = French
other_names =
known_for = ballooning
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occupation = inventor
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Jean-Pierre Blanchard (aka Jean Pierre François Blanchard) bdd|4|July|1753|7|March|1809 was a French inventor, most remembered as a pioneer in aviation and ballooning.Blanchard made his first successful balloon flight in Paris on 2 March 1784, in a hydrogen gas balloon launched from the Champ de Mars. The first successful manned balloon flight took place only a few months earlier, on 21 November 1783, when Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes took off at the Palace of Versailles in a tethered hot air balloon constructed by the Montgolfier brothers. The flight nearly ended in disaster, when one spectator - Dupont de Chambon, a contemporary of Napoleon at the École militaire de Brienne - slashed at the balloon's mooring ropes and oars with his sword after being refused a place on board. Blanchard intended to "row" northeast to La Villette but the balloon was pushed by the wind across the Seine to Billancourt and back again, landing in the rue de Sèvres. Blanchard adopted the Latin tag "Sic itur ad astra" as his motto.

The early balloon flights triggered a phase of public "balloonmania", with all manner of objects decorated with images of balloons or styled "au ballon", from ceramics to fans and hats. Clothing "au ballon" was produced with exaggerated puffed sleeves and rounded skirts, or with printed images of balloons. Hair was coiffed "à la montgolfier", "au globe volant", "au demi-ballon", or "à la Blanchard". []

Blanchard moved to London in August 1784, where he took part in a flight on 16 October 1784 with John Sheldon, just a few weeks after the first flight in Britain (and the first outside France), when Italian Vincenzo Lunardi flew from Moorfields to Ware on 15 September 1784. Blanchard's propulsion mechanisms - flapping wings and a windmill - again proved ineffective, but the balloon flew some 115 km from the military academy in Chelsea, landing in Sunbury and then taking off again to end in Romsey. Blanchard took a second flight on 30 November 1784, taking off with an American, Dr John Jeffries, from Rhedarium Garden west of Grosvenor Square in London to Ingress in Kent. A third flight, again with Jeffries, was the first flight over the English Channel, taking about 2½ hours to travel from England to France on 7 January 1785, flying from Dover Castle to Guînes. Blanchard was awarded a substantial pension by Louis XVI. Pilâtre de Rozier had been attempting the same feat, in the opposite direction, but had been delayed by bad weather; he was killed in another attempt that June.

Blanchard toured Europe, demonstrating his balloons. Blanchard holds the record of first balloon flights in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. Following the invention of the modern parachute in 1783 by Sébastien Lenormand in France, in 1785 Jean-Pierre Blanchard demonstrated it as a means of safely disembarking from a hot air balloon. While Blanchard's first parachute demonstrations were conducted with a dog as the passenger, he later had the opportunity to try it himself when in 1793 his hot air balloon ruptured and he used a parachute to escape. Subsequent development of the parachute focused on it becoming more compact. While the early parachutes were made of linen stretched over a wooden frame, in the late 1790s, Blanchard began making parachutes from folded silk, taking advantage of silk's strength and light weight.

On 9 January 1793, Blanchard conducted the first balloon flight in North America, ascending from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and landing in Deptford, Gloucester County, New Jersey. One of the flight's witnesses that day was President George Washington, and the future presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Blanchard left the United States in 1797.

He married Marie Madéleine-Sophie Armant (better known as Sophie Blanchard) in 1804. In 1809, Blanchard had a heart attack while in his balloon at the Hague. He fell from his balloon and died some weeks later from his severe injuries. His widow continued to support herself with ballooning demonstrations until it also killed her. On 6 July 1819, Norwich Duff, an Edinburgh born naval officer then undertaking a tour of western Europe, recorded in his travel log how he:

ee also

*Timeline of hydrogen technologies


External links and references

* [ History of Hot Air Ballooning]
* [ Journal of Jean-Pierre Blanchard's forty-fifth ascension, being the first performed in America, on the ninth of January, 1793 (1918)]
*worldcat id|id=lccn-n83-19700

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