Glaisher, James, Travels in the air

(London :  R. Bentley,  1871.)



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A  sketch  of   SCIENTIFIC  BALLOONING  FROM   1783   TO   1867.

No sooner had the brothers Montgolfier launched into the air their
first aerostatic globe, no sooner had the art of aerial navigation dawned,
than certain contemplative minds saw at once the immediate applica¬
tion of this noble physical conquest to the investigation of the vast
atmospheric ocean at the bottom of which we live. This splendid and
marvellous means of locomotion was at once hailed as an infallible
method of obtaining a thorough knowledge of the earth's atmosphere ;
and though some were bold enough to believe, at this early date, that
the course of a balloon might be directed at will, and that pleasure-
trips to all parts of the world might be easily accomplished, others of
more sober imagination looked only to the scientific applications of
the new discovery. The illustrious Benjamin Franklin foresaw the
meteorological importance of a balloon. Whilst passing through Paris
he spoke to several members of the Academy of Sciences on the
scientific future in store for aerostation. This future was then
supposed to be near at hand; but even now, in the seventieth year
of this century, who can say that we have realized it ?

Before commencing the account of our aerial travels, we must point
to the fact that such expeditions undertaken in the interests of science
have hitherto been very rare, even in France, in spite of the well-
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