Citation
Stories of balloon adventures

Material Information

Title:
Stories of balloon adventures
Creator:
Mundell, Frank
Sunday School Union (England) ( Publisher )
Morrison and Gibb ( Printer )
Place of Publication:
London (57 and 59 Ludgate Hill E.C.)
Publisher:
Sunday School Union
Manufacturer:
Morrison & Gibb
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Edition:
4th ed.
Physical Description:
158, [2] p. : ill. ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Balloon ascensions -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Ballooning -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Aeronautics -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1897 ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature -- 1897 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1897
Genre:
Publishers' advertisements ( rbgenr )
Children's literature ( fast )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Preface dated 1897.
General Note:
Publisher's advertisements follow text.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Frank Mundell.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026885700 ( ALEPH )
ALH5147 ( NOTIS )
07855096 ( OCLC )

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Full Text




The Baldwin Library

















DROPPED FROM THE SKY.
Frontispiece.) [See page 107,



gg WRETION COLE oe

SPORIES

n oust

OF

BALLOON ADVENTURE

BY

FRANK MUNDELL

AUTHOR OF
“THE DARING DEEDS” LIBRARY, ‘THE HEROINES” LIBRARY,

ETC. ETC.



fOURTH EDITION

LONDON:
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION
57 AND. 59 LupcGatE Hit, E.C.



PREFACE

—_>—

In the following pages will be found brief narratives
of some of the more famous incidents and exciting
episodes which mark the history of ballooning. No
attempt has been made at a consecutive account of
the progress of aerostation, and as far as possible no
technical terms have been used, except those which
were found to be absolutely essential to exactness
in description. In the choice of incidents I have been
chiefly guided by the presence of adventure, and by
the relative importance of the incident to the subject
as a whole.

F. M.

December 1897.







CHAP.

It.
III.
rv.
Vv.
VI.
VII.
VIII.

Ix.

XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.

XVI.

CONTENTS

THE FIRST BALLOONS . .
EARLY ASCENTS . . .
THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND .

ACROSS THE CHANNEL . .
FLOOD AND FIRE . . .

THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING

OVER THE ALPS . : :
STRANGE ADVENTURES. :
SEVEN MILES HIGH . 6
A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE . 6
"TWIXT SEA AND SKY. ,
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND . :
TRAGIC ADVENTURES ©. ‘

WHICH WAY DOES THE WIND BLOW ?
BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR.

WITH ANDRIE ACROSS THE BALTIC

PAGE

1
18
26
34
41
47

66
80
89
99
108
118
129
135
149









LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE
DROPPED FROM THE SKY : 0 . : Frontispiece ~
THE BROTHERS MONTGOLFIER . . 5 ‘ ; 13

CHARLES’S BALLOON ON ITS WAY TO THE CHAMP DE MARS * 15

ROSIER’S BALLOON s ; 5 : 5 : 20
M. BLANCHARD . : : 5 : ; pena
BLANCHARD’S BALLOON 3 : : 3 6 38
DEATH OF AN AERONAUT é i i ; 51
A TERRIBLE MOMENT . ; : ; : : 69
MESSRS. GLAISHER AND COXWELL IN THEIR BALLOON. a 8]
THE ‘“‘ZENITH’’ SHOT UPWARDS ~ . 3 § i 85
THE ‘‘GhANT” , See : : 2 : 91
THE WRECK OF THE ‘“‘GHANT”’ Zi : 3 ; 95
‘‘WE FOUND OURSELVES IN THICK CLOUDS” . 2 f 125
COLONEL BURNABY STARTING ON HIS TRIP . ‘ © 187
DEPARTURE OF THE ‘‘HAGLE” , : , f i 155






STORIES

OF

BALLOON ADVENTURE

CHAPTER I.

THE FIRST BALLOONS.

**Oh, what a dainty pleasure ’tis
To sail in the air!”

O first navigated the air? is a question

which it is by no means easy to



answer. The desire to partake of
this “ dainty pleasure ” seems to have
taken a strong hold upon the human mind at a very
remote period, as shown by the story of Deedalus, the
celebrated Grecian sculptor and architect. . While
imprisoned in Crete he made wings for himself and
his son Icarus, with which to fly across the sea. He
is said to have accomplished the flight in safety; but °
Icarus flew too near the ae the heat of which melted



12 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

the wax with which his wings were fastened on, and
he fell headlong into the Atgean Sea.

In subsequent ages, the idea of flying was the basis
of all attempts to make a passage through the air.
Men thought that by elongating their arms with a
broad mechanical covering, they could convert them
into wings, and fly like birds; but they forgot that
birds possess air cells which they can inflate, that
their bones are full of air instead of marrow, and in
their ignorance they launched themselves from towers
and other high places, and came crashing to the earth.
Some paid the penalty of death for their wild and
daring adventure; others, like the Monk of Malmesbury,
of whom Milton tells, lived to attribute their failure
entirely to their having forgotten to put on a broad
tail of feathers.

To the brothers Stephen and Joseph Montgolfier
belongs the honour of having solved the problem of
aérial navigation. They were paper-makers by trade,
and in their experiments naturally fixed upon paper
as the most suitable material for making balloons.
After many trials, they at length succeeded in 1783
in raising a balloon, thirty-five feet in diameter, to a
height of fifteen hundred feet. It was nearly spherical
‘in shape, and was made of linen cloth covered with
paper. The gas which caused the balloon to ascend



THE FIRST BALLOONS 13



was made by burning moist straw and wool on an iron
brazier, placed beneath the opening.
The news of this marvellous achievement spread

t
:

quickly throughout France, and so great was the

excitement that a subscription was raised in Paris to



THE BROTHERS MONTGOLFIER,

construct a “ Montgolfiére,’ as the first balloon was
called. There lived at this time in the French capital
a young scientist named Professor Charles, and he
determined to share the glory and wealth which
seemed likely to fall to the share of the Montgolfiers.



“14 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

He accordingly constructed a spherical balloon of
varnished silk which he inflated with hydrogen gas.
On the 27th of August 1783 it ascended from the
Champs de Mars in the presence of three hundred
thousand spectators. About an hour later it fell in a
field at Gonesse, about fifteen miles off.

The consternation which its descent caused is thus
described — :

“It is supposed by many to have come from
another world; many fly, others, more sensible, think
it is a monstrous bird. After it has alighted, there is
still motion in it from the gas it still contains. A
small crowd gains courage from numbers, and for an
hour approaches by gradual steps, hoping meanwhile
the monster will take flight. At length, one bolder

than the rest’ takes his gun, stalks carefully to within

- shot, fires, witnesses the monster shrink, gives a
shout of triumph, and the crowd rushes in with
flails and pitchforks. One ‘tears what he thinks
to be the skin, and causes a poisonous stench;
again all retire. Shame, no doubt, now urges them
on, and they tie the cause of alarm to a horse’s
tail, who gallops across the country, tearing it to
shreds.”

Absurd as it seems to us, the Government caused
a proclamation to be sent throughout the country































































































































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15



CHARLES’S BALLOON ON ITS WAY TO THE CHAMP DE MARS,













THE FIRST BALLOONS 7.

explaining to the inhabitants the nature of balloons,
and begging them not to be alarmed.

In the following month, Montgolfier exhibited his
fire-balloon before the king at Versailles. The per-
formance was but a qualified success. The balloon
descended only two miles away, and was much slower
in its motions than that of Charles. The ascent,
however, had a certain scientific value. The great
discussion of the time was whether it would be
possible to breathe at a certain distance from the |
earth. Montgolfier accordingly sent up a sheep, a
cock, and a duck in a cage attached to his balloon.
They came down in safety, and without having
sustained any injury on the voyage. These were
the first aérial travellers.

The balloon, or “ large ball,” was now an accomplished
fact, and serious discussion followed as to whether it
could be adapted for service as an air-ship for bearing
men aloft as passengers. How this was done, and the
subsequent advances in the adventurous science of

aerostation, we propose to show in the following pages.



CHAPTER IT.
EARLY ASCENTS.

is remarkable that the man who was
gifted with the ingenuity to make the
first balloon had not the daring to

trust his life to his own invention, and



the honour of being the first in the long list of
adventurers in the air fell to a stranger. The man
whose name was thus destined to be famous was
Pilatre de Rosier, a professor in the French Museum.
He made the acquaintance of Montgolfier, and
suggested to him what was at that time a most
daring project—to attach himself underneath one of
the fire-balloons, Seeing in this a means to gain the
popularity which Charles had deprived him of, Mont-
golfier gladly consented, and preparations were set on
foot for the sensational performance.

For this experiment Montgolfier constructed a

special balloon, forty-six feet in circumference, and
18



EARLY ASCENTS 19

sixty-six feet high. It was richly decorated with
drawings of eagles and wreaths. From it was
suspended a circular gallery by a multitude of cords.
In the middle of the lower opening of the balloon a
kind of grate was suspended. In this were placed
straw and rags moistened with spirits of wine.

The details of the first attempt, though insignificant
in comparison with what has since been accomplished
are not without interest. The Montgolfiére, we are
told, ascended as high as the ropes—purposely placed
to detain it—would allow, which was about eighty-
four feet from the ground. He remained at this
altitude for four minutes and twenty-five seconds, by
throwing straw and cloth into the grate, and setting
them on fire before the eyes of the dismayed spectators.
When “the intrepid adventurer returned from the
sky,” the experiment was pronounced to have been a
great success,

Pilatre was by no means satisfied with his ex-
perience, and boldly announced his intention of
making a proper aerial voyage, in a free balloon.
Accordingly, on the 21st of November 1783, an
ascent was made from the Bois de Boulogne.
Pilatre was on this occasion accompanied by the
Marquis d’Arlandes, who afterwards wrote an account
of “the first journey attempted by man through an



20 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

element which, previous to Montgolfier’s discovery,
seemed. but little fitted to support him.”

The balloon rose majestically to the height of about
three hundred feet over Paris; but it would speedily
have descended had not the fire been constantly fed











ROSIER’S BALLOON,

with straw. As they were sailing over the city, the
aeronauts were startled by a loud report, and on
looking up to see what had caused the noise, they
were horrified to find that the balloon was on fire.

“T saw,” says the marquis, “that the part turned



EARLY ASCENTS 21

towards the south was full of holes, some of which
“were of a considerable size. At the same time, I
took my sponge and quietly extinguished the little
"fire that was burning some of the holes within my
reach; but at the same moment I noticed that the
bottom of the cloth was coming away from the circle
which surrounded it.”

In spite of the insecure state of their machine, the
two daring travellers kept on their way till they
reached the outskirts of the city, when they descended
in safety. They had been among the clouds for
twenty-five minutes. Thus ended the first trip in a
free balloon.

But the year 1783, so fertile in the history of
ballooning, did not pass away without witnessing a
more wonderful performance. Pildtre’s ascent had
restored the Montgolfiers to the height of popularity,
and Professor Charles and his balloon were moment-
arily forgotten. He therefore made up his mind to
outshine his rivals, and set.to work to prepare a
sensation for the people of Paris.

He constructed a balloon of alternate strips of red
and yellow silk, coated with indiarubber varnish.
The car was of basket-work, covered with cloth
painted in blue and gold, trimmed with tassels of

gold and cords of silk, and was suspended from a net



22 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE >

which covered the upper part of the balloon. A
valve was fitted at the top and worked bya cord from
below to allow the gas to escape when it became
necessary to descend, and ballast was carried in the
form of sand-bags. A barometer fastened to the car
completed the outfit of this the first complete aérial
machine. ‘So detailed were the arrangements in the
Charliére, as the hydrogen balloon was called, that
for a hundred years no essential change or improve-
ment took place on Professor Charles’s invention.

On the ist of December, Charles made an ascent
from the gardens of the Tuilleries, accompanied by a
friend named Robert. The balloon rose very gently
in a horizontal direction and quickly reached an
elevation of eighteen hundred feet.

Then the wind carried. them towards Nesles.
Throughout the voyage, which occupied two hours,
the temperature was agreeable, and the aeronauts
had not the slightest apprehension for their safety.
“Finally,” says Charles, “we arrived at the plain of
Nesles, twenty-seven miles from Paris, and prepared
to descend towards a vast meadow. Some trees and
shrubs stood round its border, and, fearing that their
branches might damage the car, I threw over two
pounds of ballast. We rose again, and ran along

more than a hundred yards at the distance of one or



EARLY ASCENTS 23

two feet from the ground, so that we had the appear-
ance of travelling in a sledge. The peasants ran
after us without being able to catch us, like children
pursuing a butterfly in the fields. At last we stopped
and were instantly surrounded. Nothing could equal
the simple and tender regard of these country folk,
their admiration and their lively emotion.”

The aeronauts alighted from the car to receive the
congratulations of those who hurried to the spot.
There was still a large quantity of gas in the balloon,
and Charles in the wild delight of success took it
into his head to ascend alone. He stepped into the
car, and ordered the peasants to let go their hold.
The balloon shot up into the air with lightning
rapidity, for he had forgotten to take in ballast to
compensate for the weight of his friend.

“T passed in ten seconds,” he says, “from the
_ temperature of spring to that of winter. The cold
was keen and dry, but not insupportable. I examined
all my sensations calmly ; I could hear myself live, so
to speak, and I am certain that at first I experienced
nothing disagreeable in this sudden passage from one
temperature to another.”

Soon, however, he began to experience the intense
cold. His fingers became numbed, and he was

conscious of violent pains in his ears and face



24 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

« After being twenty-five minutes in the air, I began
to descend, and on arriving at twenty-three fathoms
from the earth, I suddenly threw over two or three
pounds of ballast, which I had carefully kept for this
purpose. I then slowly descended upon the ground
which I had, so to speak, chosen.”

It is probable that in this ascent Charles reached
a height of four thousand yards, or rather more than
two miles, a height which, without being dangerous,
is quite sufficient to cause the aeronaut strange
feelings, especially if he has travelled at the speed of
an express train “rushing from the earth to the moon
and stopping at the first station.” Strange to say,
Charles never again trusted himself in a balloon, and
for the remainder of his days rested contentedly on
the laurels he had won.

Far different was it with the intrepid Pildtre de
Rosier. In the following year he made an ascent
in a Montgolfiere from Versailles, and alighted at
Compiégne, forty miles away. This was the longest
journey ever performed in a fire-balloon. During
this trip, he reached a height of 11,732 feet above
the earth. “We perceived beneath us only enormous
masses of snow, which, reflecting the sunshine, filled
the firmament with glorious light.”

But Pildtre was more a man of science than an



EARLY ASCENTS 25

adventurer, and he longed to devote his talent to some
other account than that of mere theatrical display.
By combining the Charliére and the Montgolfiére he
hoped to be able to take advantage of whichever
current of air would carry him to a fixed destination.
His idea was that the hydrogen balloon could support
the fire-balloon, while the latter with a small quantity
of fuel could cause an ascent or descent at will.

On the 15th of July 1785, Rosier ascended in his
aero-Montgolfiere, a fire-balloon ten feet in diameter
suspended from an air-balloon thirty-seven feet in
diameter. After being up for about half an hour, and.
when at a height of about three thousand feet, the
balloon exploded. The unfortunate aeronaut was
precipitated to the ground, a mangled mass. Thus
perished the first martyr to the science of ballooning,
and by a strange. coincidence, he was “ the first mortal

to navigate the air.”



CHAPTER ITIL
THE ¥IRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND.

HE Chevalier Vincent Lunardi, a young




Italian, is- distinguished as the “ first
aérial traveller in the English atmo-
sphere.” He made his famous voyage
on the 15th of September 1784. He was at this
time secretary to the Neapolitan Ambassador, and,
fired by an ambition to accomplish in England what
had already been done in France, he applied to Sir
‘George Howard, the governor of Chelsea Hospital,
for permission to launch his balloon from the grounds
of that institution, “as from the altar of humanity to
ascend the skies.”

He did not possess sufficient money to construct a
balloon, and in order to raise the necessary funds, he
proposed that each subscriber of one guinea should be
allowed to view the construction of his wonderful

machine on four different occasions, besides having a
26



THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 27

chair near the globe on the day of ascending. Half
a guinea entitled the subscriber to view the con-
struction twice and to a seat on a bench near the
chairs. After all expenses had been paid, he further
suggested that the balance of the money obtained
should be divided among the pensioners at the
Hospital. The matter was submitted to King George
the Third, and he graciously gave permission for the
use of the grounds.

For a time all went well. Lunardi obtained the
support of several of the leading men of the day,
including Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal
Society. In the enthusiasm of the moment, Lunardi
wrote to a friend: “England is open to all the world,
either in war or peace; and a man of talent, whether
liberal or mechanic, cannot fail of support and
encouragement in proportion to his merits. When
once a circumstance in the situation or character of
a stranger has attracted the attention of an
Englishman, and he ‘has declared himself his protector
- and friend, a reliance may be had on his sincerity,
and the friendship is permanent in duration as it is
slow in growth.”

Shortly afterwards, however, he describes himself
as being overwhelmed with “anxiety, vexation, and

despair.’ A Frenchman named Moret had advertised



28 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

an ascent, and about sixty thousand people assembled
to witness it. They patiently waited for four hours
for the filling and ascension of the balloon; but in
spite of every attempt the globe absolutely refused to
rise. In their disappointment the people imagined
the whole affair to be an imposture, and they rushed
in and tore the balloon to pieces.

This unfortunate accident seriously affected
Lunardi’s prospects. He too was a foreigner, and
was consequently regarded as a colleague of Moret,
and therefore an impostor. Fearing the consequences
of failure, the permission which had been given him
to use Chelsea Gardens was withdrawn. Nor could
he obtain leave to make an ascent from private
grounds, and it seemed as if the venture in the
meantime must be given up.

Though sorely disheartened, he continued his
attempts to obtain a site, and some idea of his tenacity
of purpose may be had from the fact that he declared
that, rather than he beaten, he would launch his
balloon from the street. At length the grounds of
the Honourable Artillery Company were placed at
his disposal, and he hurried on his preparations with
all possible speed.

On the appointed day a hundred and fifty thousand
spectators assembled to witness the great marvel.



THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 29

The Prince of Wales was present, and watched the
filling of the balloon with the greatest interest, all
the time asking many questions and expressing
concern for the safety of the aeronaut. The
catastrophe which Lunardi had all along dreaded,
namely, that of some hitch in the proceedings which
might arouse popular indignation, was very nearly
taking place.

The process by which the balloon was filled with
hydrogen gas was slow and elaborate, and at the time
fixed for the start the balloon was not half inflated.
For some considerable time the crowd waited
patiently, but then they became ‘indignant at the
delay. Fearing to provoke the impatient and
impetuous people, Lunardi decided to ascend, though
the inflation. was not completed.

‘His’ balloon was made of oiled silk in alternate
strips of blue and red, and measured a hundred feet
in circumference. The car was simply a platform
surrounded by a railing about four feet high. The
balloon was provided with wings and oars; the wings
to give it motion, if becalmed, by agitating the air,
and the oars to raise or lower it at will, without
having to use the valve.

He took with him in the car a pigeon, a dog, and
a cat. At two o’clock the last cord which bound him



30 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

to earth was severed, and the balloon rose gracefully
from the Artillery Ground, “amid the most unfeioned
acclamations and applause. The multitude were
more than satistied, and passed at once from
incredulity and menace to the most extravagant
expressions of approbation and joy.” Even among
those who did not witness the actual ascent, the
utmost enthusiasm prevailed. It is even stated that
the king, who was in conference with his ministers
when the balloon was reported to be passing, broke
up the council with the remark that they could
resume their deliberation later, but that they might
never have another chance of seeing Lunardi.

Shortly after having started, the pigeon escaped, and
one of the oars broke and fell to the ground. A
young lady who saw the oar fall thought it was the
body of the aeronaut, and was so affected that she died
the following day.

Lunardi describes his sensations with graphic
detail, and it is interesting to note that they are
exactly similar to those experienced by all aérial
travellers, who naturally expect some extraordinary
sensation in rising from the earth. The ascending
motion was, however, altogether imperceptible, and
instead of the balloon going up, he felt as if the earth
had, by some unaccountable effort of nature, been



THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 31

suddenly precipitated from its hold, and was gradually
sinking into the depths of some mighty abyss
below.

As the earth gradually receded, the objects on it
became less and less; but as they diminished in size
they became more distinct and defined. The streets
appeared as lines all animated with dots, which were
really men and women. The great. metropolis itself
appeared like a table set out with toys—baby houses,
pepper castors, extinguishers, with here and there a
dish-cover—things which are called domes and spires
and steeples. The Thames appeared as a small
winding rivulet; while the largest vessels were no
more than flat, pale decks, like pieces of driftwood on
the water.

Enraptured with the prospect, Lunardi wrote: “It
seemed as if I had left below all the cares and
passions which molest mankind. I had not the
slightest sense of motion in the machine. I knew
not whether it went. swiftly or slowly, whether it
ascended or descended, whether it was agitated or
tranquil; but by the appearance or disappearance of
objects on earth.”

Shortly after three o’clock the balloon descended
in a cornfield on the common of South Mimms,
Here he landed the cat, as the poor animal had



32 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

suffered severely from cold. Having witnessed his
descent, some people came to his assistance; but,
wishing to obtain a second triumph, he ordered them
to stand clear. ‘Then throwing out all his provisions
and ballast, he made a second ascent. He rose very
rapidly, and in a few minutes the car was fringed
with icicles.

“Floating clouds filled up all the space beneath.
Lovely colours outspread themselves, ever varying in
tone and form,—now sweeping in broad lines, now
rolling and heaving in huge, richly, yet softly tinted
billows,—while sometimes through a great opening,
rift, or break appeared a level expanse of grey or
blue fields at an infinite depth below. And all this
time there fell a noiseless cataract of snowy cloud-
rocks, falling swiftly on all sides of the car in great
fleecy masses, in small snow-white and glistening
fragments—all white and soft and swiftly rushing
past giddily and incessantly; down, down, and with
all the silence of a dream, strange, lustrous, majestic,
incomprehensible.”

On this ascent Lunardi obtained his highest
elevation, and at twenty minutes past four descended
in a meadow near Ware in Hertfordshire. He called
on some labourers who were at work in a field to help

him to descend, but they were too much terrified to



THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 33

do anything but stare at him open-mouthed. At
length a young woman took hold of one of the cords
which he had thrown out and called on the men to
assist her. They had by this time got over their
astonishment and assisted to drag the balloon to the
earth.

The aeronaut was then taken to the house of Mr.
Baker, the member of Parliament for Hertford, who
treated him “ with frank and generous hospitality.”

The voyage had terminated favourably, but Lunardi
had to pay the penalty of his success, in a severe fit
of sickness brought on by the reaction after the weeks,
of suspense, contempt, and fatigue which he had
undergone. When he recovered he was “the star of
the hour.” He was everywhere received with
applause, respect, and friendship. ‘he Prince of
Wales presented him with a handsome watch, and he
was received at court by the king, who expressed a
warm interest in his adventures and personal safety.

Lunardi made several successful ascents after this
in different parts of the kingdom, and at a subsequent
period in Italy. The favourite of kings and princes,
however, died at Genoa in 1806 in a state of great

poverty.

ua



CHAPTER IV.
ACROSS THE CHANNEL.

OWARDS the close of the year 1784, the
inhabitants of the ancient port of Dover:

were in a state of great excitement, for



it was whispered about that an attempt
was to be made to cross from Dover to France by
balloon. At this time it was the chief ambition of
‘French aeronauts to achieve the first passage across
the Channel, and the remembrance of Lunardi’s
ascent was. still fresh in men’s minds, so that the
preparations for the daring undertaking were watched
by the townsfolk with more than usual interest.

In the courtyard of Dover Castle, a wooden staging
was erected to support the balloon, and arrangements
were ,made for starting on the 1st of January 1785.
A few days before this date, the celebrated French
aeronaut, Blanchard, arrived to complete his prepara-

tions. He was accompanied by an American doctor
34



ACROSS THE CHANNEL 35

named Jeffries, who provided all the necessary funds,
in return for a seat in the car.
Blanchard was very anxious to make the ascent

alone, but the doctor was determined to accompany



M. BLANCHARD,

him, even in spite of the clause which the aeronaut
introduced into their agreement in the hope of shaking
off the persistent medico. By it Jeffries bound him-
self, on his word of honour as a gentleman and an

officer, to jump out of the car the moment his further



36 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

presence and weight should jeopardise the success of
the venture and imperil Blanchard’s life.

On the date fixed for the ascent, the wind was
blowing steadily from the east. It was therefore
impossible to start, and it was not until the 7th of
January that a favourable breeze was obtained. Then
Blanchard announced to the mayor of Dover that it
was his intention to start. In order to give notice to
the inhabitants, the governor of the castle ordered
three cannons to be fired at half-past eight in the
morning, and the whole population of Dover, together
with a great number of strangers, crowded down to
the beach in the greatest expectancy.

At ten o'clock the aeronauts made their final
preparations by testing the strength of the netting,
and the safe condition of the balloon itself. In the
car were nine little bags filled with sand, a barometer,
a thermometer, a compass, some provisions, and two
magnificent flags emblazoned witl the arms of England
and France.

Three hours later, Blanchard and Jeffries entered
the car. They were dressed alike, “in a sort of
brown woollen slop, waistcoat of the same material,
knitted drawers covering the feet, and tight ankle
boots. They both wore leather gloves and a scarlet

woollen comforter twisted several times round their



ACROSS THE CHANNEL 37

necks. Blanchard had a cap of light grey plush,
covering his ears, Jeffries a thick sailor's cap. He
also wore a light girdle of silk, to which were fastened
his watch and hig handkerchief, and beneath which
the form of his favourite snuff-box was evidently
apparent.

At a quarter-past one the balloon was released
from its fastenings; but the weight of the car proved
too great, and it slowly sank instead of ascending.
By throwing overboard nearly all the ballast, however,
it rose gently, and drifted over the Channel, followed
by the cheers of the assembled spectators. The
crowd gazed after the balloon till it appeared as a.
mere speck in the heavens, while those who were the
happy possessors of telescopes were eagerly questioned
as to what was going on. Suddenly the balloon
descended as it were into the sea, and when this was
made known, a cry of horror-arose; but it soon was
seen ascending, and shortly afterwards it quite dis-
appeared from view.

We will now accompany the aeronauts in their
adventurous flight across the Channel. For a time
all went well, and they greatly enjoyed the consterna-
tion which their appearance caused among the crews
of several vessels over which they passed. When
about a third of the journey was accomplished, they



38 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

found that they were rapidly descending, and at
once threw out the remainder of the ballast. The
advantage gained was but momentary, for shortly

afterwards the rising of the mercury in their



























































































































































































































































































BLANCHARD’S BALLOON.

barometer denoted that they were again descending.
Again they lightened the car by throwing out their
books and provisions. The French coast was now in
sight, and success was well within their reach ; but

again the balloon approached perilously near the



ACROSS THE CHANNEL , 39

water. Hastily everything that remained in the car
was thrown out, and when this did not prove enough,
the aeronauts stripped themselves of all but their
most necessary garments. Then the balloon slowly
ascended. :

We can readily imagine the feelings which were
uppermost in Jeffries’ mind at this moment. The
question “ What shall be dispensed with next?” must
have caused him to shudder. Fortunately he was not
called upon to sacrifice himself, for the balloon rose
rapidly, and exactly two hours from the time of
starting, passed over the high ground between Cape
Blane Nez and Calais, “and it is remarkable that the
balloon at this time rose very fast, so that it made a
magnificent arch.”

In passing over the forest of Guines, the two
adventurers descended as low as the tops of the trees
and Dr. Jeffries seized hold of one of the uppermost
branches and brought the balloon to a standstill.
The great machine then became fast between a couple
of oaks, anid the aeronauts got out of their car by the
aid of the branches. When they reached ¢erra jirma
their feelings seem quite to have overcome them, for,
we read, “they fell on each others’ necks.” They
were in a state of excitement closely bordering on

madness. After they had embraced one another,



“40 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

aer

Jeffries shouted out, “ Oh, look, look! you have now
standing before you the two most celebrated men in
all France or England.” And Blanchard added, “ Yes,
indeed, the most celebrated men in the whole world.”
Their only audience was the trees.

Meanwhile two little’ boys who had witnessed the
descent ran off and aroused the inhabitants of the
village, who now came flocking to render assistance to
the daring nien, and offer them hospitality, which was
very welcome, for both Blanchard and his companion
were suffering severely from cold and hunger. When
they were sufficiently refreshed they proceeded to
Calais, where they were welcomed as heroes. Every
honour, even to the freedom of the city, was conferred
on Blanchard. The King of France commanded him
to appear at court, and His Majesty awarded him a
pension of fifty pounds,



CHAPTER V.
FLOOD AND FIRE.

\NE of the most remarkable figures in



the story of balloon experiment and
adventure is Count Zambeccari of
Bologna. A sailor by profession, he
fell into the hands of the Turks in 1787, and was”
kept a close prisoner in the Bagnio at Constantinople
for three years. He had already made several un-
eventful voyages in the clouds, and during his long
captivity, he dreamed of means of guiding himself
once more upon the waves of air. His idea was
that by burning oil or spirits of wine under an
inverted parachute, a balloon could be made to
ascend ten times higher and ten times more rapidly
than by the simple method of throwing sand over-
board. :

Accordingly, when he regained his liberty, he
hastened to England in the hope of obtaining the

41



42 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

funds necessary for the experiment; but in this he
was disappointed. The danger of fire was a risk too
great to be overlooked in his proposals, and so his
scheme was not regarded with favour. But to such
aman as Zambeccari, fear did not exist. He there-
fore made his way to his native Italy. At Bologna
he succeeded in raising the money, and an ascent
was arranged in company with Dr. Grassetti and
Pascal Andreoli.

The ascent took place at night, in a fire-balloon,
which Zambeccari had made more dangerous and
complicated than it was already, by the addition of
a rudder:- The intention of the aeronauts was to
take advantage of the strong north-east wind which
was blowing and journey to Milan. They took with
them instruments and a lantern by which to make
observations. :

The departure was badly regulated, and from the
first misfortune followed them. The lamp, which was
intended to increase their power of ascent, became
useless, and the light of their lantern was too feeble
to enable them to observe their instruments. The
balloon ascended with great rapidity, and in an in-
credibly short time they found themselves in a
region of excessive cold. The suddenness of the
change of temperature, coupled with the fact that



FLOOD AND FIRE 43

Zambeccari had scarcely broken his fast for twenty-
four hours, produced their natural result. He fell
on the floor of the car in a deathlike faint. Grassetti
also became unconscious. Andreoli alone preserved
his senses; but even he suffered excessively. His
whole attention was now occupied in trying to revive
his companions. Zambeccari was the first to recover,
and like a man newly awakened from a dream, asked
his companion—

“What is the news? Where are we? What
time is it?”

Andreoli answered that the compass was broken
and their whereabouts was therefore a mystery; but
as he spoke, a sound, muffled and almost inaudible,
fell on his ear. “Ah, the breaking of waves!” he
cried. In fearful anxiety the two men listened. It
was now about three o’clock in the morning, and the
balloon was slowly descending through a layer of
whitish clouds. The noise of waves, tossing in wild
uproar, became louder and louder. The next instant
the horrified aeronauts saw the sea below them
violently agitated. Zambeccari seized a large bag
of sand; but, before he could throw it overboard, the
car touched the waves, and the waters of the Adriatic
poured through the slender basket-work.

_ The panic-stricken aeronauts blindly cast out



44 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

everything they could lay their hands on. Without
‘a word being spoken, without pausing to think what
would be the consequences, they threw into the sea
their money, instruments, ballast, and clothing. Still
the balloon did not rise. Then with knives they set
desperately to work, and cut away everything that
was not absolutely necessary to the balloon. Thus
lightened, they ascended with fearful rapidity to such
a prodigious elevation, that they had great difficulty
in hearing each other, even when shouting at the top
of their voices.

The adventurers suffered severely. They were
suddenly covered with a coating of ice; Zambeccari’s
fingers were frozen and he could no longer make use
of his hands, Grassetti lay in the bottom of the car
-hardly showing any signs of life, Andreoli bled pro-
fusely. On a parallel with them, the astonished men
saw the moon shining, red as blood. After travers-
ing these elevated, icy regions for about half an hour,
the balloon again fell into the sea.. It was pitch
dark, and the aeronauts, worn out by what they had
already endured, abandoned themselves to the fate
which seemed inevitable. The balloon was now more
than half empty, and acted as a sail, which dragged
the car through the waves. Often it was entirely
covered with water.



FLOOD AND FIRE 45

At length the welcome daylight appeared, and
showed the half-drowned men that they were with-
in four miles of the shore, and rapidly driving
towards it. But they were again doomed to disap-
pointment. Suddenly a land wind sprang up, and
carried them out to sea. Some boats put off from
the shore, and for a time the hope of rescue lightened
their hearts; but when the sailors came near enough
to make out the curious object, they made all sail
to get away from the spot as quickly as possible.

“Tt was now,” says Zambeccari, “broad daylight,
but all we could see was the sea, the sky, and the
death that threatened us.” Fortunately, at the last
moment a vessel hove in sight, and the captain, better
informed than the others, saw at once what had
happened, and sent his boat to their rescue. The
sailors threw the weary adventurers a stout rope,
which they had only sufficient strength to fasten to
the car. They were drawn on board fainting with
- exposure. Their perilous voyage had occupied eight
hours.

Relieved of the weight of the aeronauts, the balloon
rose at once into the air, in spite of the efforts of the
sailors to capture it. The boat received a severe shock
from its ascent, as the rope was still attached to it, so
the sailors hastened to cut themselves free. At once



46 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

the balloon mounted with incredible rapidity, and was
lost in the clouds, where it disappeared for ever from
their view.

The captain of the vessel did everything in his
power to relieve the suffering of his guests. He
carried them to Ferrara, and they made their way to
Pola, where they were welcomed with great kindness.
Here Zambeccari had to have his frozen fingers
amputated.

In spite of this terrible warning, the adventurous
sailor-aeronaut was determined to make another
experiment with his spirit-lamp. Accordingly, on the
21st of September 1812 he made an ascent from
Bologna, along with a companion named Signor
Bonaga. The upward journey was accomplished in
safety and without adventure. On descending, how-
ever, the grapnel caught suddenly in a tree. The
suddenness and violence of the shock overturned the
lamp and set the whole machine on fire. The two
men instantly jumped from the car. Bonaga was
picked up fearfully injured; but he escaped with his
life. Zambeccari was killed on the spot.



CHAPTER VI.
TIE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING.

‘afi HE most remarkable figure in connection



with ballooning in England is that of
Charles Green. His career lasted for
thirty-six years, during which he made
fourteen hundred ascents. “Three times he crossed
the sea, and twice he fell into it. To him are due
two important improvements in the management of
balloons—the use of ordinary coal gas for inflation,
and the introduction of the guide-rope. This is a
rope several hundred feet long, which is allowed to
hang downwards from the car, and by means of
which the aeronaut is able to regulate the height to
which his balloon rises. If the balloon sinks very
low, a considerable length of the guide-rope rests on:
the ground. The balloon, thus lightened, rises again.
If it ascends too high, the weight of the rope tends
to bring it down again, and so a uniform elevation is

rendered possible.
47



48 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

Green with his unique experience reduced balloon-
ing to a routine, and few accidents attended his
ascents, which were not, however, without adventure.
The greatest of all the veteran’s dangers, however,
was caused by a most malicious trick, the perpetrator
of which was unfortunately never discovered.

In the year 1832 he ascended from Cheltenham.
The balloon rose from the ground steadily; but no
sooner was weight put on the car, than it fell over,
and the contents were thrown to the ground. Some
one. had partially cut the ropes of the car in such a
way that the damage was not noticed till its effects
were experienced. The aeronaut and his companion
had only time to seize hold of the hoop to save
themselves from being dashed to the ground. The
balloon flew upwards with frightful velocity, and
before Green could obtain possession of the valve
string, which the first violence of the accident had
placed beyond his reach, an altitude of upwards of
ten thousand feet had been reached.

Their danger was terrific. They clung to the hoop.
with desperate energy, not daring to trust any portion,
of their weight upon the margin of the car, which
hung suspended by a single cord beneath their feet.
Their only hope of safety lay in their ability to hang
on till the exhaustion of the gas made the balloon.



THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 49

descend. To the horror of their situation a fresh
danger was added. Under the strain of the unequal
pressure the network which covered the globe began
to give way. Mesh after mesh broke with a suc-
cession of reports like the discharge of a pistol.
_ Through the opening thus created, the balloon began
to ooze slowly out, and presently took the form of .
a huge hour-glass floating in the upper air. Truly a
singular and awful spectacle.

Thus the aeronauts hung for a considerable time,
expecting every moment to be hurled to the earth
by the escape of the balloon. At length they began
to descend. When within a few feet from the
ground, the catastrophe they had so long dreaded
took place-——the balloon, forcing its way through the
netting, escaped with a loud explosion, and the
aeronauts fell to the earth insensible. It was at
first feared that they were dead; but with great
difficulty they were at length restored to consciousness
and health,

Green’s balloon, one of the most famous and longest-
lived aerostats of which any record has been kept, was
called the “Great Nassau,” and it received its name
after accomplishing a most remarkable journey from
London to Germany. It was constructed by Green

himself of the finest silk, specially spun, woven, and
i



50 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

dyed. It was pear-shaped, sixty feet in height, fifty
in breadth, and had a capacity of eighty-five thousand
cubic feet. The car measured nine feet long and
four broad. It was oval in shape, and the bottom
was fitted with a cushion, which could be used as a
bed if necessary.

On the 7th of November 1836, Green, accompanied
by two friends, Mason and Holland, set out. They
carried a fortnight’s provisions, and, not knowing to
what quarter of the Continent they might be blown,
they had provided themselves with passports to every
country in Europe. Borne on a fresh breeze, the
balloon sailed in a south-easterly direction over Kent, —
and at four o'clock, three hours after they started,
they came in sight of the sea. They now came
under the influence of a current setting towards the
north, which would inevitably have carried them out
over the open sea. A quantity of ballast was therefore
thrown out, and the balloon rose until a favourable
stream of south-western air was reached. ;

Without a thought of danger the voyagers left
England and floated above the Channel. Behind
them, the white cliffs sparkled with many lights ;
below, the water was dotted here and there at great
distances with vessels whose lights glimmered and
twinkled like distant stars as the ships rose and fell



























































































































































































































































































































































































DEATH OF AN AERONAUT.
51









THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 53

on the waves; before them hung a huge black cloud-
curtain, stretched from sea to sky as though to bar
their farther advance. Into its folds they plunged,
and then they heard nothing, saw nothing, till at the
end of an hour the well-known lights of Calais shone
ahead.

Preparations were now made to pass the night in
as great safety and comfort as possible. A lamp was
lighted and hung so as to prevent all danger of explo-
sion, and the provisions were spread out. “ With
many a joke,” says Mason, “touching the high flavour
and exalted merits of our several viands, which, how-
ever agreeable under the circumstances, will not bear
repeating, we contrived to do ample justice to the
good cheer.”

Darkness overhung the landscape, and for miles, as
far as the eye could reach, nothing could be seen but
clusters of lights indicating the, position of a town,
while away on the horizon glowed a dull red mist,
like the reflection of some mighty conflagration, which
when reached proved to be only the peaceful lights of
a busy town. Streets, squares, and the whole plan of
a town, drawn by the lamps, could be easily traced by
the voyagers as the balloon hurried them from point
to point.

“Tt would be difficult to give an idea of what sort



54 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

of effect such a scene in such circumstances produces.
To find oneself transported in the darkness of night,
in the midst of vast solitudes of air, unknown, unper-
ceived, in secret and in silence, exploring territories,
traversing kingdoms, watching towns which come into
view and pass away again before one can examine
them in detail, is grand—sublime.”

Towards midnight all signs of life disappeared, and,
as is the custom in continental towns, the lights were
extinguished. There was no moon, and the brilliancy
of the stars served but to make the gloom more
apparent. To the voyagers it seemed as if they were
making their way through an interminable abyss.
The solitude was profound. This, together with their
ignorance of their whereabouts, heightened the novelty
of their situation. Thus they sailed on till three
o’clock in the morning, not, however, without consider-
able suffering from the cold, which froze all the liquors
in the car. ;

Shortly afterwards, the aeronauts were startled by
a sudden explosion. The silk quivered, and the car,
violently shaken, sunk into the gloomy abyss. There
was not time to ask “What's happened?” when a
second and a third shock followed, threatening to
wrench the basket from its fastenings. It was after-

wards found that one of the ropes, soaked with water



\ ;
THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 55

and made rigid by the intense cold, had yielded to the
pressure of the expanding gas, and so caused the
alarming shock.

When day dawned, the aeronauts looked anxiously
abroad, in the hope of discovering their. position, but
without success. They accordingly decided to effect
a landing at the first suitable spot. Their first
attempt failed, for so great was the force of the wind
. near the earth, that the balloon was swept towards a
wood, and accident was only averted by skilful
handling. Another attempt was successful, and about
seven o’clock in the morning the anchor held in a
valley near the town of Weilburg in the duchy of
Nassau. The journey of five hundred miles had
occupied eighteen hours. i

The hospitable Germans welcomed the wanderers
with great enthusiasm, and before they left for
England, one of their lady admirers bestowed on the
trusty balloon the name of “The Great Balloon of
Nassau.”

“Thus,” says Mason, “ended an expedition which,
whether we regard the length of the journey or the
- time occupied in it, may justly be considered as one
of the most interesting and most important ever
undertaken.”

One of Green’s favourite and most frequently



\

56 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

quoted sayings was—“ The best parachute is a balloon;
‘the others are bad things to have to deal with;” and
indeed he had good grounds for his opinion. On the
24th of July 1837 he ascended from London for the
purpose of testing a new parachute. The inventor,
Robert Cocking, thought he had discovered the true
principle on which parachutes should be made.
Previous to his time, they had been constructed ‘so as
to descend in a concave form, like that of an open
umbrella. The aeronaut came down in a basket, not, as
in more modern times, suspended from a ring, and the
swinging was so violent during the descent, that some-
times the basket was almost in a horizontal position.
Cocking determined to remedy this, and constructed a
parachute in the form of a large inverted cone. The
large upper rim was made of hollow tin, a most brittle
and therefore unsuitable material.

Experts were by no means satisfied with Cocking’s
invention; but all they could say failed to shake his
confidence in his parachute. Accordingly on the
eventful day he went up dangling by a rope, fifty feet
long, from the bottom of the car of Green’s “Great
Nassau” balloon. Knowing well what would happen
the instant the great weight of the parachute was
detached, the aeronaut provided a small balloon inside
the car, filled with atmospheric air, and fitted with



THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 57

two mouthpieces for himself and the friend who
accompanied him.

Green made the trip sorely against his better
judgment, and he was so ill at ease regarding the ©
termination of the adventure, that he refused to touch
the latch which was to free the parachute from the
balloon. This presented no obstacle to Cocking, who
procured a line of the required length and had it
fastened to the latch above and led down to the
basket of the parachute.

Considerable difficulty was experienced in rising to a
suitable height, partly owing to the resistance to the
air by the expanded parachute, and partly owing to
its weight, which was about halfa ton. At length,
when the Great Nassau was over Greenwich at an
elevation of about a mile, Green called out, “ How
do you feel, Mr. Cocking?” Though a distance of
fifty feet separated the aeronauts, each syllable was
heard with perfect distinctness in the silence of that
region, of which they were for the time being the
only inhabitants.

“Never better in my life,” replied Cocking.

“But perhaps you will alter your mind,” suggested
Green..

< By no means,” answered Cocking warmly; “ but

how high are we?”



58 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

“Upwards of a mile.”

“T must go higher, Mr. Green. I must be taken
up two miles before I liberate the parachute.”

The aeronaut replied that this was impossible if he
wished to descend by daylight.

“Very well,” said Cocking; “if you will not really
take me any higher, I shall say good-bye.”

Again Green tried to save his friend from what he
regarded as.a foolish risk, and called out, “ Now, Mr.
Cocking, if your mind at all misgives you about your
parachute, I have provided a tackle up here, which I
can lower down to you, and haul you up into the car,
and nobody need be the wiser.”

“Certainly not, thank you all the same. I shall
now make ready to pull the latch cord.”

“ Good-night, Mr. Cocking.”

“Good-night, Mr. Green. A pleasant voyage to
you; good-night.”

There was a silence, as awful as it was perfect, and
the aeronauts above felt a jerk upon the latch; but it
was not sufficient to detach the parachute. There
were a few seconds of intense suspense, then a
vigorous pull was given—the balloon bounded aloft,
and Cocking in his parachute descended slowly and
steadily towards the earth. So far his invention fully
realised his expectations. All went well for a few



THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 59

minutes, when suddenly those below who were watch-
ing with glasses gave a loud cry of horror.

The parachute leaned on’ one side and then lurched
to the other. The tin tubing had evidently given way,
for the large upper circle collapsed. For a few
seconds it was hid in a cloud, and when it came in
sight again, the whole thing turned over, and then, like
a closed-up umbrella, it shot straight down to the earth.
“The descent was so rapid,” says an eye-witness, “ that
the mean rate of the fall was not less than twenty
yards a second.” Within three hundred feet from the
ground the basket became detached. This completed
the catastrophe. Cocking was found in a field at Lee,
quite insensible. On being lifted, he uttered a moan ;
and in ten minutes he was dead.

Meanwhile, how had the aeronauts fared in the
Great Nassau? With a sidelong swirl the balloon
sprang upward, the two men crouching down in the
car, while Green clung to the valve line to allow the
gas to escape. So rapid was their flight that the
resistance of the air prevented the gas from escaping
at the top, and it came rushing downwards, At once
they seized the mouthpieces of the atmospheric air
balloon, and to these they owed their lives, for the
gas continued to pour down upon them for so long a

time, and in such volume, that they would certainly



60 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

have been suffocated. As it was, they were com-
pletely blinded for some minutes. At length the
Great Nassau, having attained a height of nearly
twenty-four thousand feet, slowly descended, and the
aeronauts safely reached the ground near Maidstone.
Many pages might be filled with the thrilling
narrative of Green’s adventures, but one other must
suffice. On one occasion, in company with a gentle-
man named Rush, he was blown out to sea in the
Great Nassau. Seeing some vessels from which he
knew he should obtain assistance, he commenced a
rapid descent in the direction of the Nore. The car
struck the water about.two miles north of Sheerness.
The wind was blowing fresh, and, owing to the
buoyancy of the balloon, and the enormous surface it
" presented, it was swept over the water at a speed
which left the boats that had come to the rescue far
behind. So great indeed was its progress, that the
aeronauts were drageed through every wave, and
there was every prospect of them being drowned.
Seeing that they could not be overtaken, Green by
a clever mancuvre threw over his large ‘grapnel.
Fortunately, in their course lay a sunken wreck, and
in its shell-covered sides the iron eventually got a
hold and arrested their headlong flight. A boat soon
came up and by means of ropes rescued the voyagers.



THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 61

The danger was not yet over, however, for no boat
could venture near the aerial monster, which struggled,
and tossed, and bounded from side to side. It would
have capsized in an instant any boat that came near.
It was impossible to do anything till the services of
an armed boat’s crew were obtained from a revenue
cutter. The men fired muskets loaded with ball
cartridge into the restive globe, and it sank down life-
less upon the waves; but not before the silk had been ©
riddled with twenty-six bullet-holes,



CHAPTER VII.
OVER THE ALPS.

N the early days of the year 1846 a
balloon rose slowly over the Alps;



“that gigantic obstacle which even
the most daring aeronauts avoid with
unspeakable fear.” In the car sat a solitary aeronaut

a young man named Arban. Darkness came on,
bringing storm in its train, and the balloon was swept
into the midst of those lofty white-mantled peaks.
The moon came out from behind the clouds, spread-
ing a silvery shimmer over peak and pinnacle and
precipice of snow, and revealing to the gaze of the
daring adventurer a sight such as no mortal eye had
ever beheld.

All night long the storm raged, and the aeronaut,
struggling against the almost overpowering influence
of the intense cold, doled out his ballast grain by grain.

Again and again he was in danger of being precipitated
62 E



OVER THE ALPS 63

into the immense crevices of the Mer de Glace, or
crushed against the towering peaks. In the midst of
this appalling situation he exulted in the knowledge
that he sailed among the mountains over which human
foot had never trod. Then occurred to him the curious
idea of throwing a bottle overboard, which might serve
as a witness to future centuries that a French aeronaut
had crossed there.

When day dawned, he found himself over the plains
of Piedmont, and shortly afterwards descended at a
small village four miles from Turin, to which city he
was carried by the enthusiastic people in a triumphal
procession.

A few months later Arban made an ascent from
Trieste. On this occasion the car was too heavy for
the balloon to raise. The wind was plowing a hurri-
cane; but this could not deter him from descending.
With the rapidity of thought, he detached the car
from the globe, and before the assembled people
realised what he was doing he flew upwards into
space. The wind carried him rapidly towards the
Adriatic, and as he disappeared from view, he was
seen standing upon the hoop, saluting the crowd
with one hand and holding on to the cords of the
balloon with the other.

Fearing disaster, a number of boats set out to aid



64 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

him; but they returned at nightfall without having
even had a sight of the balloon.

Meanwhile Arban, after reaching a great elevation,
gradually approached nearer and nearer to the waves.
He had no means of rising, and was soon immersed
in the stormy waters of the Adriatic. But the balloon,
though too weak to support his weight in the air, had
still sufficient buoyancy to drag him through the
water. For hours he was trailed over the sea, now
plunged in the waves, now carried over them, as
the balloon rose and fell with the varying wind.
Night came on. His limbs were stiff and cold.
Even his herculean frame could not long withstand
these rude shocks, and he felt his strength rapidly
failing. Still he clung to the hoop with indomitable
energy. His eyes closed, and he knew no more until —
the sound of oars fell on his ear, and he cried
for help with all his remaining strength. His ery
was answered. Some sailors returning from the
Italian shore quickly rowed towards him and saved
his life.

This daring and impetuous aeronaut met his death
a few years later in an ascent from Barcelona. His
wife was to accompany him; but as the wind blew
off the land, Arban refused to expose her to so great

a danger, and set off alone. His car was last seen



OVER THE ALPS 65

like a mere speck in the heavens. The “Spaniards
waited for several days for tidings of the traveller ;
but none came. His career had come to an end in
the depths of the Mediterranean.



CHAPTER VIII

STRANGE ADVENTURES.



N the summer of the year 1847,
the veteran aeronaut Henry Coxwell,
accomplished what is “without doubt
the most perilous descent in the
annals of aerostation.” In the first half of the
present century there were numerous pleasure-gardens
in London, from which balloon ascents were of frequent
occurrence. Ever on the search for sensation, the
manager of one of these gardens arranged for a balloon
ascent by night with a firework display by the aeronaut.

A balloonist named Mr. Gypson undertook the
difficult and dangerous task, and invited Coxwell to
accompany him. The day chosen for the ascent gave
every indication of suitable weather. Not a breath of
wind stirred the trees. The balloon was successfully
inflated, and a framework was attached to which the

fireworks were fastened.
66



STRANGE ADVENTURES _ 67

When all was in readiness for the start, the sky
became overcast, the atmosphere close and oppressive,
flashes of lightning were seen in the sky, and the
distant rumble of thunder gave warning of an approach-
ing storm. Then the question arose, Was the ascent
to take place or not? Some were of the opinion that
to go up under such conditions was highly dangerous,
and would be sure to end in disaster; others thought
that the weather should make no difference, and that
there was no more danger in ascending then than at
any other time. Coxwell favoured the latter view,
and declared that if an immediate ascent was made,
and everything in order and managed properly, no
harm could possibly result.

The two aeronauts, accompanied by two friends,
accordingly entered the car. Coxwell jumped up
into the hoop to see that the neck of the balloon was
clear and to give notice to Gypson when the valve
required to be opened. The cable was slipped, and,
amid the shouts of the spectators, the balloon rose,
leaving behind it a train of fire in ever-changing
colours. All went well till they had attained an
altitude of some four thousand feet, when a blinding
flash of lightning appeared and a splitting thunder-
crash was heard apparently right over the balloon.

The crowds in the garden no less than the aeronauts



68 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

were impressed with the sudden and awful report, and
a profound silence reigned for a few minutes,

The balloon still ascended with great rapidity, and
Coxwell, from his seat in the hoop, saw that the silk
was greatly distended. On prompt and skilful conduct
alone depended their safety. A few more blinding
flashes followed. The globe seemed on the point of
bursting. Now was the time to open the valve and
allow some gas to escape. Coxwell endeavoured by
signs to warn Gypson of the danger, but the aeronaut
paid no attention. At last Coxwell shouted out, “If
the valve is not opened the balloon will burst.” As
he spoke, the car dropped several feet. In terror the
aeronauts looked up, fearing that the network had
given way, but it was so dark that they could see
nothing except the gaslit metropolis rushing up to
meet them at fearful speed. Their headlong fall was
suddenly stayed, and a vivid flash of lightning enabled
them to see what had happened. The view was by
no means reassuring. The silk was torn right across
for about sixteen feet. Death seemed inevitable.

All this time Coxwell had remained jin the hoop,
and it was indeed fortunate that he did so. As they
fell, he noticed that the line which connected the neck
of the balloon was strained to its utmost tension, and
he thought that if he.cut it, the lower half of the





A TERRIBLE MOMENT.

69









STRANGE ADVENTURES 71

balloon would expand and form a kind of parachute
which would moderate the rapidity of their descent.
Contrary to the wishes of his companions, he did so,
- and at once their downward flight was checked; but
all danger was not yet over. Indeed, it seemed as if
they had only exchanged one danger for another still
more terrible, for “the sparks from the paper cases
shot up among the gas through the tear in the silk,
and once more the thunder roared, and the lightning
flashed, so that a more frightful descent to the earth
could not possibly be imagined.”

As they neared the ground, ballast - bags were
collected and the grapnel was got ready for use,
though there seemed but little chance of either being
effective among the thickly clustering houses and hard
pavements. Fortunately the balloon fell in a newly-
formed street in the west end of London, while the
network caught in some scaffold poles, so that the
force of their fall was greatly broken, and they all
reached the ground uninjured.

Another ascent which Coxwell made on the 16th
of October 1853 is also well worth recording, on
account of the amusing as well as the dangerous
aspect of the adventure, and as showing that after the
aeronaut had safely passed the perils of the air, he had

often others, no less real, to encounter on land.



72 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

On the day already mentioned, Coxwell had
arranged an ascent from one of the pleasure-gardens
in the east end of London, But the morning broke
wet and windy, and it was feared that the exhibition
would have to be postponed, As the day wore on,
the sun broke through the clouds, and the wind
moderated. All preparations were made, and every-
one stood at his place waiting for the signal from the
aeronaut to inflate the balloon.

It was late in the afternoon before the word was
given, and at six o’clock, the Sylph, as the balloon
was called, was not quite half full. This presented a
serious difficulty, for the wind had risen again, and
was blowing in fitful gusts,’ which the balloon in its
present state was ill calculated to withstand. Owing
also to the lateness of the hour, only another half-
hour could be spent in inflating. Fortunately this
was sufficient to give the Sylph the necessary ascend-
ing power.

The balloon rose rapidly; but a sudden gust of
wind, more violent than the rest, caught the machine,
and drove it along in a downward direction. Quickly
Coxwell threw out two bags of sand; but this was
not sufficient to enable the Sylph to rise, and to his
horror, he saw himself carried directly towards a tall

chimney. A collision was certain, and he had only



STRANGE ADVENTURES 93

time to seize hold of the edge of the car when the
crash took place. Down hurtled the bricks and
mortar, while the balloon, undamaged, soared aloft on
the freshening breeze.

In a short time the barometer indicated an
immense elevation, As he did not wish to go any
higher, the aeronaut pulled the valve line; but no
amount of tugging would open the shutters. On
looking to see what was the cause of the hitch, he
found that, in the hurry of filling the balloon, a fold
had been allowed to form in the silk. This effect-
ually prevented the valve from working, so there was
nothing for it but to allow the’ balloon to take its
own course, and wait till the gas had exhausted itself,
sufficient to permit of a descent.

After attaining an elevation of two miles and a
half, the Sylph began to travel towards the earth.
“On the descent,” says Coxwell, “I noticed a splendid
meteor, which was below the level of the car, and
apparently about six hundred feet distant. It was
blue and yellow, moving rapidly in a north-easterly
direction, and became extinguished without noise or
sparks—its size was half that of the moon. I could
not but feel that if such another visitor were to cross
my path, the end of the Sylph and its master would
be at hand.”



74 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

Shortly after eight o’clock, the balloon descended
in a field near Basingstoke. It was by this time
quite dark, and as far as the eye could reach, there
was no sign of a dwelling. Not knowing where he
was, Coxwell shouted in the hope of attracting some
passer-by ; but no answer was returned, and he began
to fear that he had landed in some very outlandish
place. He continued, however, to shout till he was
hoarse, but with no better result, so he reluct-
antly made up his mind to spend the night in the
car. ‘

After a supper of sandwiches, he lay down and
tried to sleep; but the thought that perhaps he might
be able to obtain assistance at no great distance kept
him awake, and he determined to explore the neigh-
bourhood. Crossing the field, he came to a gate
which led intoa lane. Cautiously the aeronaut groped
his way by the side of the hedge, and in a quarter of
an hour he saw the welcome glimmer of a light in
the window of a farmhouse.

“Now my troubles are over,” thought Coxwell as
he clambered over the stile; but they were only just
beginning. Hardly had he reached the top bar when
a great fierce Newfoundland dog rushed at him.
Without pausing to see whether the animal was
chained or not, he took to flight, nor did he pause or



STRANGE ADVENTURES 75

look back till he had gained the safety of the field in
which his balloon lay.

Such an experience was not to be repeated, so he
lay down again in the car. Just as he was dozing
off, he heard voices coming in his direction, and
thinking that some villagers who might have seen the
balloon descend were coming to his assistance, he got
up and shouted, “ Here I am, and the balloon all safe.”
At once the talking ceased, and a gentle hush occurred,
followed by the sound of hurried footsteps in full
retreat. Coxwell shouted that they had nothing to
fear; but his voice only accelerated their flight.

He then came to the conclusion that there must be
houses at no great distance, and resolved to make one
more attempt to procure assistance. Arming himself
with a stout piece of iron, he sallied forth, and after
walking about two miles, he came to a number of
cottages. He strolled up the chief street of the
village, and in turning a corner suddenly, he found
himself face to face with a workman on his way
home. Coxwell lost no time in making known his
condition; but his story excited suspicion instead of
sympathy, and the only help he could get out of the
man was a recommendation to make known his wants
at the village inn.

He hurried off in the direction indicated, and on



76 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

the way met a policeman. Going up to the officer, he
asked him where he was, and explained the circum-
stances. Again he was met with distrust, and in reply
to his question, “ What county am I in ?” the constable
gaid, “You don’t know what county yow’re in, don’t
you? Well, if you don’t clear out of this, you'll know
that you’re in the county gaol soon enough.”

Finding that it was only wasting words to try and
get any information, Coxwell set off for the inn; but
when he arrived the whole place was in darkness, and
no answer was given to his repeated knocks. In
disgust he turned away and went back to his balloon
in the field, where he spent the night.

Early on the following morning some farm labourers
on their way to work across the field found the
balloon, and helped Coxwell to exhaust the gas. He
breakfasted with the farmer, and afterwards went
down to the inn, where the mysterious treatment of
the previous night was explained. A few days before
a gang of thieves had robbed many of the shops and
houses, and every stranger was looked upon with
distrust. The landlord said he had heard his knock-
ing; but he had been warned by the policeman that
there was a dangerous fellow about, so he did not open
the door. In expressing regret for the unfriendly
reception the aeronaut had had, the landlord said at



STRANGE ADVENTURES 17

parting, “ Another thing, you must not forget that you
have come among the Hampshire hogs, and that a
grunt or two is all in character.”

In an ascent from the Crystal Palace on the 18th
of April 1863, Coxwell had a very narrow escape.
On this occasion he was accompanied by Glaisher the
scientist. The start did not augur well for a pleasant
voyage, for suddenly the rope which held the balloon
to the ground broke, and the aeronauts were started
on their trip sooner than they intended. The balloon

rose rapidly, and in less than a quarter of an hour

reached the height of ten thousand feet. Here they
encountered a strong southward current of air which
bore the balloon along at a rapid pace. They were
shut in by the clouds, and had no idea of their
whereabouts; but as the barometer now indicated
an elevation of twenty-four thousand feet, there was
no cause for any uneasiness.

When the aeronauts had been in the air about an
hour and a half, they thought it advisable to descend
in order to find out their position. A rapid drop
brought them out of the clouds, and within ten
thousand feet of the earth. Suddenly Coxwell, who
was looking over the side of the car, cried out, “ What’s
that?” His companion joined him, and they were
not long in making out their position. There was not



78 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

a moment to spare, for below them lay the bold
promontory of Beachy Head, and they were almost
directly above the sea.

“Quick !” shouted Coxwell; “ we must save the land
at all risks. Leave the instruments—everything.”

Both men seized the valve line and hung on for
dear life; and with such energy that they not only
opened the valve, but also tore a large rent in the
surrounding silk. The balloon descended almost in
a straight line, and the car was dashed to the earth
with a shock that shattered the instruments; but the
aeronauts’ lives were saved. A few seconds more and
the balloon would have struck the sea.

Some idea of the speed of the fall may be formed
from the fact that ten thousand feet were passed in
four minutes,

Two years later Coxwell had a similar experience
in an ascent from Belfast. On this occasion he took
up with him a number of passengers. Seeing that the
balloon was approaching the sea, they became alarmed,
and one of their number seized the valve line with
such violence that it broke. The danger was now real,
so Coxwell gave the order for all to leave the car
together, the moment its downward tendency brought
it within a safe anchoring distance of the ground,
His commands were obeyed, as he thought, by every-



STRANGE ADVENTURES 79

one. Two persons were, however, left behind, and the
lightened balloon bounded upward for some distance.
Fortunately it came within reach again, and they were
got out.

The balloon again got free, and was afterwards
picked up on the shore of Lurgan Bay anchored with-

in a few paces of the sea.



CHAPTER IX.
SEVEN MILES HIGH.

HE highest ascent on record was accom:
plished on the 5th of September 1862
by Mr. Coxwell, the hero of the previous



chapter, accompanied by the well-known
scientist, Mr. T. Glaisher, This was the most important
of the eight scientific ascents made on behalf of the
British Association at this time. The fittings of the
car were arranged with the utmost care. Glaisher
had a specially prepared table fixed in the basket,
on and attached to which were about thirty different
instruments, so placed that each could be easily con- _
sulted. Indeed, nothing was left undone that was
likely to ensure the success of the voyage and the
accuracy of the observations.

Accordingly, on the day named, the balloon made a
rapid ascent from Wolverhampton, shortly after one
o'clock. All went well, aud in about half an hour



SEVEN MILES HIGH 81

they had reached a height of four miles. Still the
balloon ascended. All this time Glaisher was fully
occupied with his observations; but suddenly he

became conscious of a dimness of sight, and soon



MESSRS. GLAISHER AND COXWELL IN THEIR BALLOON,

could not read any of the fine divisions of his
instruments. They were now over five miles high.
Alarming as was this experience, it was as nothing to
what followed.

Wishing to enter an observation in his notebook,
6



82 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

Glaisher found that his right arm was powerless—a
moment before it had been possessed of full vigour.
He tried his left-arm—it also was useless. He struggled
and shook his body; but he could not move his arms.
‘He looked at the barometer, and whilst doing so, his
head fell back, resting on the edge of the car. In this
position, he says, “I dimly saw Mr. Coxwell, and tried
to speak; but could not. In an instant, intense
darkness overcame me; but I was still conscious, with
as active a brain as at the present moment while
writing this.” Then he became insensible.

At the moment Glaisher was seized with partial
blindness, the valve line became entangled, and
Coxwell had to leave the car and go up into the ring
to readjust it. The task was not easy. The cold was
intense, and hoar-frost had gathered all round the
neck of the balloon. When at leneth matters were
put right, and the aeronaut prepared to return to the
car, he found his hands were frozen. He had there-
fore to place his arms in the ring and drop down. -

Glaisher was by this time lying insensible in the
bottom of the car. The looseness of his attitude and
the calm expression on his features alarmed Coxwell,
and he attempted to move forward to see if his com-
panion was still alive; but he too was powerless.

Unconsciousness was rapidly overtaking him. He



SEVEN MILES HIGH | 83

knew that unless a descent was made, and that
speedily, they could not reach land alive. His hands
were powerless; but with the energy of determination
he seized the valve line in his teeth, and dipped his
head till the balloon began to descend.

He next turned his attention to his companion.
The first words of which Glaisher became conscious
were “temperature ” and “observation ”; but he could
neither see, speak, nor move. Gradually his faculties
returned, and he sat up and looked round like a man
who had just awakened from sleep. “I have been
insensible,”’ he said.

“You have,” replied Coxwell; “and I too very
nearly.”

He then resumed his former position, and with note-
book and pencil in hand, continued his observations
as if nothing had happened. One cannot but admire
his heroic sense of duty. Even in this critical moment
he gave no thought to self, his whole mind being de-
voted to the obtaining of observations that would be
of value to science.

Slowly the balloon descended, and at last came to
the earth seven miles from Ludlow. No conveyance
could be obtained, and a long compulsory walk to that
town finished the day. Neither of the aeronauts

experienced any bad effects from their perilous adven-



84 . STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

ture. From careful observation ‘and calculation,
Glaisher estimated that they reached the extraordinary
height of thirty-seven thousand feet, or upwards of
seven miles, and that too in little more than an hour.

The escape of Glaisher and Coxwell from death at
that tremendous elevation, marvellous as it was con-
sidered at the time, is rendered more remarkable by
the fate which befell three Frenchmen who attempted
a similar ascent twelve years later. This is one of the
saddest episodes in the history of ballooning.

The French Society of Aerial Navigation organised
an ascent for the purpose of testing the restorative
powers of oxygen when breathed instead of ordinary
air in a rarefied atmosphere. Accordingly a new and
large balloon, named the Zenith, was built and inflated
at La Vilette gasworks in Paris. On a bright spring
_ day in April 1874 the ascent was made. In the car
were three gentlemen, M. Sivel, captain of the balloon,
and two scientists, Croci Spinelli and Gaston
Tissandier. The latter had joined the expedition for
the purpose of analysing the dust of the air, and had
brought with him a large reservoir of petroleum oil,
which was fastened to the car by cords, so that it
might easily be cut away if its great weight should
imperil the safety of the balloon.

All went well till they had reached an elevation of









































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































THE “ZENITH” SHOT UPWARD,









SEVEN MILES HIGH 87

about twenty-three thousand feet, when they experi-
enced some difficulty in breathing. This was, however,
soon remedied by inhaling the oxygen they had
brought with them. They felt greatly invigorated,
and after a brief discussion, it was decided to attempt
an even greater altitude. A quantity of ballast was
thrown over, and the Zenith shot upward.

Soon afterwards Tissandier fainted and remained
unconscious for upwards of an hour, till he was
awakened by one of his companions, who warned him
that the balloon was descending. In a mechanical
sort of way, like one in a dream, Tissandier threw
over some ballast. Hardly had he done so than he
sank back exhausted and fell asleep.

A momentary panic seems at this point to have
prostrated the wits of his companions, who madly cut
away the reservoir, which weighed about eighty
pounds. Thus lightened, the balloon rushed upwards
at a fearful speed, and as it travelled, unconsciousness
overcame those in the car.

An hour later, Tissandier again roused himself.
The Zenith was descending rapidly, and there was no
more ballast left to break the force of the terrific
plunge. Turning to his companions for help, a
horrible sight met his gaze. They were lying in the
bottom of the car, black in the face and with blood



88 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

oozing from their mouths. ‘They had been suffocated,
and were both dead.

‘The rapidity with which the balloon dropped
through space gave no time for thought, and the fate
which had befallen his friends numbed his action.
Soon he would be like them——dead—dashed to pieces.
It was a terrible position; but with the resource
which often comes to men in moments of the direst
peril, Tissandier saw a way of escape, and prepared to
avail himself of it. With the utmost coolness he cut
away the grapnel rope just as the car was about to
strike the ground. The balloon rose for a moment,
and was swept along by the force of the wind. He
tore open the silk to check its mad flight. It was at
last caught in a hedge at Ciron, a commune of Indre,
a hundred and ninety miles from Paris. The survivor
was found by some people in the neighbourhood, who
nursed him with every care till he was sufficiently
recovered to return home.

There are no records of the height that was reached
on this occasion; but it must have been very great.



CHAPTER X.
A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE,

HE Géant was the name appropriately




given to an immense balloon which
was constructed in Paris in the year
1863. It was made entirely of silk,
and was upwards of a hundred and twenty feet in
height. Underneath the globe was a smaller balloon
called the compensator, which was intended to prevent
loss of gas during the voyage. The car was perhaps
the most wonderful part of this gigantic machine.
In shape it was not unlike a small cottage. It had
two storeys, thirteen feet long by eight feet high,
with berths like a ship, and plentifully stocked with
provisions.

The first ascent took place in Paris on the 4th of
October 1863, under the management of an aeronaut
named M. Nadar. The excursions of the Géant made

a great commotion. They were indeed almost as
89



go STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

sensational as the original Montgolfier and Charles
ascents, and an immense crowd assembled to witness
the departure of the balloon with its crew of thirteen
persons, each of whom carried a passport in nearly all
the languages of Europe. i

The ascent was slow and gradual at first, as if the
giant machine was feeling its way to the clouds.
Then it rapidly descended, and it was not till several
bags of ballast had been thrown out that the Géant
took its flight to the upper air amid the cheers of the
spectators. Paris was passed over at the height of
about six hundred feet; but the voyage for which
the most elaborate preparations had been made, and
which was to bring about a new order of things in
the science of ballooning, ended at Meaux, distant
about thirty miles from Paris.

About a fortnight later a second attempt was made
to prove the Géant worthy of the expectations to
which its construction had given rise. On _ this
occasion the balloon was carried in a north-easterly
direction, and was last seen by the inhabitants of
Paris making for the Belgian frontier. Soon after-
wards the sun set in purple majesty, and the aeronauts ~
from the roof of their osier house looked down in
admiration through the clear night air on the wonder-
ful panorama that was unfolded to their view



A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE gi

Over cities, fires, forges, tall chimneys; and coal







THE ‘“‘GhANT.”

mines they were carried in safety. Occasionally there
came loud shouting from below as the balloon became



92 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

clearly visible. Once, in passing over a small town,
someone in the excitement of the moment fired a gun,
and for a while the aeronauts were spellbound with
terror, not knowing if the gun was loaded, or if the
ball might pierce the globe; but nothing of the kind
happened. Brilliant, gaslit Brussels was quickly
left behind, and then the balloon entered a region
of silence and darkness. So on through the night
the voyage was continued. All was silent in and
around the car, save when Nadar woke the echoes of
the slumbering earth with “titanic shouts” from a
speaking-trum pet worthy of his balloon.

At dawn all was going well, and the aeronauts had
a magnificent view of the sunrise. “Suddenly, as
with a burst of joy, a flash of light darts through the
azure vault. It is the signal, re-echoed from the
most distant horizons, of the ushering in of day in all
its splendours.” But the voyage, so fortunately begun
and so successful up to this point, was nearing a tragic
termination.

Away on the edge of the horizon, a white streak, as
of fog, was seen, which Nadar at once declared was
the sea.

A sudden and unaccountable panic took possession
of the voyagers, in spite of the reassuring words of
their captain that there was no danger. Someone



A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE oy

‘pulled open the valve. What followed was not a
descent; but a fall. Down went the balloon like a
stone. There was no time to speak, and no one had
sufficient presence of mind to act in this awful,
sudden emergency. The ground was within thirty
yards of them, and appeared to be rushing to meet
them with lightning rapidity. There were still twenty
sacks of ballast in the car, sufficient, had they been
thrown overboard, to arrest this headlong plunge to
earth, and give the aeronauts time to choose a suitable
landing-place ; but they remained undisturbed, while
each and all sought the only possible safety in cling-
ing to the ropes of the balloon.

Fortunately, the wind blew with such terrific
violence near the ground that their fall was broken,
and instead of crashing to the earth, the balloon was
carried along a short distance. “Hold on! hold on!”
was the cry, as with a thundering shock the car
collided with a mound. Many were forced to let go
their hold, and were thrown on their heads. The
balloon rebounded with an immense spring. The
platform of the car was now a scene of confusion and
fear, as everyone rushed to his place again and held
on with the determined grip of despair.

‘Houses and fields flew past with a rapidity which
almost rendered them unnoticeable. Another shock



94 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

caused the Géant to rock and tremble. The rope of
the anchor, which had been. thrown out in the vain
hope of arresting their progress, was snapped by the
force of the collision as if it had been made of pack-
thread. Onward they flew with redoubled speed
before the fury of an ever-increasing gale.

The shocks were now so frequent that it was
impossible to count them, and at each shock the car
rebounded: like an indiarubber ball, sometimes to a
height of fifty feet. The terror-stricken crew had
crowded ‘by this time to one side of the car, and
as this happened to be the side which struck the
ground, their sufferings and dangers were increased
tenfold.

“By the least negligence or slip, or by the loss of
presence of mind for one moment, we should have
been thrown out and dashed toatoms. Every collision
tries our muscles and strains our wrists or our
shoulders, and every rebound dashes us one against
the other, constituting each individual a tormentor
and victim at the same time. Our flight is so rapid
that we can only distinguish an occasional glimpse of
anything. What a dizzy whirl! what a succession of .
breathless shocks! Far in the distance, we dis-
tinguish an isolated tree. We approach it like

lightning, and we break it as if it were a straw.





THE WRECK OF THE ‘' GANT,”









A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE 97

Two terrified horses, with manes and tails erect,
endeavour. to fly from us; but we consume distances,
and leave them behind immediately.”

But a still greater danger was at hand. The path
of their flight was next crossed by a railway embank-
ment, along which a train was slowly travelling.
Benumbed with fear, the aeronauts clung to their
posts awaiting the catastrophe. ‘They knew well
enough that one of two things must happen—either
they would be crushed by the locomotive, or the
balloon would in its hurricane speed overturn the
train. A few yards more and all will be decided.
So they thought; but they had reckoned without the
engine-driver. He, too, comprehended the danger,
and, after quickly bringing the train to a standstill,
backed just in time to allow the flying monster to
sweep past.

“Look out for the wires,’ cried the man, and. those
in the car instantly lowered their heads in obedience
to the well-timed warning. No one was hurt, but
several of the ropes were cut. Still the Géant kept
on her headlong course, trailing after her, lke the
tail of a comet, the telegraph wires and the poles by
which they had lately been supported.

At length the car became entangled in a wood near

Rethem in Hanover, the adventurers were thrown
7



98 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

out, and several of them had their limbs broken.
‘The blind King of Hanover treated the unfortunate
aeronauts with great hospitality, and entertained
them until they had sufficiently recovered to return
to Paris,



Full Text



The Baldwin Library








DROPPED FROM THE SKY.
Frontispiece.) [See page 107,
gg WRETION COLE oe

SPORIES

n oust

OF

BALLOON ADVENTURE

BY

FRANK MUNDELL

AUTHOR OF
“THE DARING DEEDS” LIBRARY, ‘THE HEROINES” LIBRARY,

ETC. ETC.



fOURTH EDITION

LONDON:
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION
57 AND. 59 LupcGatE Hit, E.C.
PREFACE

—_>—

In the following pages will be found brief narratives
of some of the more famous incidents and exciting
episodes which mark the history of ballooning. No
attempt has been made at a consecutive account of
the progress of aerostation, and as far as possible no
technical terms have been used, except those which
were found to be absolutely essential to exactness
in description. In the choice of incidents I have been
chiefly guided by the presence of adventure, and by
the relative importance of the incident to the subject
as a whole.

F. M.

December 1897.

CHAP.

It.
III.
rv.
Vv.
VI.
VII.
VIII.

Ix.

XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.

XVI.

CONTENTS

THE FIRST BALLOONS . .
EARLY ASCENTS . . .
THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND .

ACROSS THE CHANNEL . .
FLOOD AND FIRE . . .

THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING

OVER THE ALPS . : :
STRANGE ADVENTURES. :
SEVEN MILES HIGH . 6
A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE . 6
"TWIXT SEA AND SKY. ,
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND . :
TRAGIC ADVENTURES ©. ‘

WHICH WAY DOES THE WIND BLOW ?
BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR.

WITH ANDRIE ACROSS THE BALTIC

PAGE

1
18
26
34
41
47

66
80
89
99
108
118
129
135
149



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE
DROPPED FROM THE SKY : 0 . : Frontispiece ~
THE BROTHERS MONTGOLFIER . . 5 ‘ ; 13

CHARLES’S BALLOON ON ITS WAY TO THE CHAMP DE MARS * 15

ROSIER’S BALLOON s ; 5 : 5 : 20
M. BLANCHARD . : : 5 : ; pena
BLANCHARD’S BALLOON 3 : : 3 6 38
DEATH OF AN AERONAUT é i i ; 51
A TERRIBLE MOMENT . ; : ; : : 69
MESSRS. GLAISHER AND COXWELL IN THEIR BALLOON. a 8]
THE ‘“‘ZENITH’’ SHOT UPWARDS ~ . 3 § i 85
THE ‘‘GhANT” , See : : 2 : 91
THE WRECK OF THE ‘“‘GHANT”’ Zi : 3 ; 95
‘‘WE FOUND OURSELVES IN THICK CLOUDS” . 2 f 125
COLONEL BURNABY STARTING ON HIS TRIP . ‘ © 187
DEPARTURE OF THE ‘‘HAGLE” , : , f i 155
STORIES

OF

BALLOON ADVENTURE

CHAPTER I.

THE FIRST BALLOONS.

**Oh, what a dainty pleasure ’tis
To sail in the air!”

O first navigated the air? is a question

which it is by no means easy to



answer. The desire to partake of
this “ dainty pleasure ” seems to have
taken a strong hold upon the human mind at a very
remote period, as shown by the story of Deedalus, the
celebrated Grecian sculptor and architect. . While
imprisoned in Crete he made wings for himself and
his son Icarus, with which to fly across the sea. He
is said to have accomplished the flight in safety; but °
Icarus flew too near the ae the heat of which melted
12 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

the wax with which his wings were fastened on, and
he fell headlong into the Atgean Sea.

In subsequent ages, the idea of flying was the basis
of all attempts to make a passage through the air.
Men thought that by elongating their arms with a
broad mechanical covering, they could convert them
into wings, and fly like birds; but they forgot that
birds possess air cells which they can inflate, that
their bones are full of air instead of marrow, and in
their ignorance they launched themselves from towers
and other high places, and came crashing to the earth.
Some paid the penalty of death for their wild and
daring adventure; others, like the Monk of Malmesbury,
of whom Milton tells, lived to attribute their failure
entirely to their having forgotten to put on a broad
tail of feathers.

To the brothers Stephen and Joseph Montgolfier
belongs the honour of having solved the problem of
aérial navigation. They were paper-makers by trade,
and in their experiments naturally fixed upon paper
as the most suitable material for making balloons.
After many trials, they at length succeeded in 1783
in raising a balloon, thirty-five feet in diameter, to a
height of fifteen hundred feet. It was nearly spherical
‘in shape, and was made of linen cloth covered with
paper. The gas which caused the balloon to ascend
THE FIRST BALLOONS 13



was made by burning moist straw and wool on an iron
brazier, placed beneath the opening.
The news of this marvellous achievement spread

t
:

quickly throughout France, and so great was the

excitement that a subscription was raised in Paris to



THE BROTHERS MONTGOLFIER,

construct a “ Montgolfiére,’ as the first balloon was
called. There lived at this time in the French capital
a young scientist named Professor Charles, and he
determined to share the glory and wealth which
seemed likely to fall to the share of the Montgolfiers.
“14 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

He accordingly constructed a spherical balloon of
varnished silk which he inflated with hydrogen gas.
On the 27th of August 1783 it ascended from the
Champs de Mars in the presence of three hundred
thousand spectators. About an hour later it fell in a
field at Gonesse, about fifteen miles off.

The consternation which its descent caused is thus
described — :

“It is supposed by many to have come from
another world; many fly, others, more sensible, think
it is a monstrous bird. After it has alighted, there is
still motion in it from the gas it still contains. A
small crowd gains courage from numbers, and for an
hour approaches by gradual steps, hoping meanwhile
the monster will take flight. At length, one bolder

than the rest’ takes his gun, stalks carefully to within

- shot, fires, witnesses the monster shrink, gives a
shout of triumph, and the crowd rushes in with
flails and pitchforks. One ‘tears what he thinks
to be the skin, and causes a poisonous stench;
again all retire. Shame, no doubt, now urges them
on, and they tie the cause of alarm to a horse’s
tail, who gallops across the country, tearing it to
shreds.”

Absurd as it seems to us, the Government caused
a proclamation to be sent throughout the country




























































































































i Sa eee tes rs
DT A eA
ety! Ey int
ATsatiaaninn pi eEP Ee eatery
Hon eal itTriicer rena ean
inn i 7 nr | 7
HP ea et s ie re Ml il g
SINT 7 SE Rhein Patan UE 1 =
i
j























































IS il
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15



CHARLES’S BALLOON ON ITS WAY TO THE CHAMP DE MARS,







THE FIRST BALLOONS 7.

explaining to the inhabitants the nature of balloons,
and begging them not to be alarmed.

In the following month, Montgolfier exhibited his
fire-balloon before the king at Versailles. The per-
formance was but a qualified success. The balloon
descended only two miles away, and was much slower
in its motions than that of Charles. The ascent,
however, had a certain scientific value. The great
discussion of the time was whether it would be
possible to breathe at a certain distance from the |
earth. Montgolfier accordingly sent up a sheep, a
cock, and a duck in a cage attached to his balloon.
They came down in safety, and without having
sustained any injury on the voyage. These were
the first aérial travellers.

The balloon, or “ large ball,” was now an accomplished
fact, and serious discussion followed as to whether it
could be adapted for service as an air-ship for bearing
men aloft as passengers. How this was done, and the
subsequent advances in the adventurous science of

aerostation, we propose to show in the following pages.
CHAPTER IT.
EARLY ASCENTS.

is remarkable that the man who was
gifted with the ingenuity to make the
first balloon had not the daring to

trust his life to his own invention, and



the honour of being the first in the long list of
adventurers in the air fell to a stranger. The man
whose name was thus destined to be famous was
Pilatre de Rosier, a professor in the French Museum.
He made the acquaintance of Montgolfier, and
suggested to him what was at that time a most
daring project—to attach himself underneath one of
the fire-balloons, Seeing in this a means to gain the
popularity which Charles had deprived him of, Mont-
golfier gladly consented, and preparations were set on
foot for the sensational performance.

For this experiment Montgolfier constructed a

special balloon, forty-six feet in circumference, and
18
EARLY ASCENTS 19

sixty-six feet high. It was richly decorated with
drawings of eagles and wreaths. From it was
suspended a circular gallery by a multitude of cords.
In the middle of the lower opening of the balloon a
kind of grate was suspended. In this were placed
straw and rags moistened with spirits of wine.

The details of the first attempt, though insignificant
in comparison with what has since been accomplished
are not without interest. The Montgolfiére, we are
told, ascended as high as the ropes—purposely placed
to detain it—would allow, which was about eighty-
four feet from the ground. He remained at this
altitude for four minutes and twenty-five seconds, by
throwing straw and cloth into the grate, and setting
them on fire before the eyes of the dismayed spectators.
When “the intrepid adventurer returned from the
sky,” the experiment was pronounced to have been a
great success,

Pilatre was by no means satisfied with his ex-
perience, and boldly announced his intention of
making a proper aerial voyage, in a free balloon.
Accordingly, on the 21st of November 1783, an
ascent was made from the Bois de Boulogne.
Pilatre was on this occasion accompanied by the
Marquis d’Arlandes, who afterwards wrote an account
of “the first journey attempted by man through an
20 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

element which, previous to Montgolfier’s discovery,
seemed. but little fitted to support him.”

The balloon rose majestically to the height of about
three hundred feet over Paris; but it would speedily
have descended had not the fire been constantly fed











ROSIER’S BALLOON,

with straw. As they were sailing over the city, the
aeronauts were startled by a loud report, and on
looking up to see what had caused the noise, they
were horrified to find that the balloon was on fire.

“T saw,” says the marquis, “that the part turned
EARLY ASCENTS 21

towards the south was full of holes, some of which
“were of a considerable size. At the same time, I
took my sponge and quietly extinguished the little
"fire that was burning some of the holes within my
reach; but at the same moment I noticed that the
bottom of the cloth was coming away from the circle
which surrounded it.”

In spite of the insecure state of their machine, the
two daring travellers kept on their way till they
reached the outskirts of the city, when they descended
in safety. They had been among the clouds for
twenty-five minutes. Thus ended the first trip in a
free balloon.

But the year 1783, so fertile in the history of
ballooning, did not pass away without witnessing a
more wonderful performance. Pildtre’s ascent had
restored the Montgolfiers to the height of popularity,
and Professor Charles and his balloon were moment-
arily forgotten. He therefore made up his mind to
outshine his rivals, and set.to work to prepare a
sensation for the people of Paris.

He constructed a balloon of alternate strips of red
and yellow silk, coated with indiarubber varnish.
The car was of basket-work, covered with cloth
painted in blue and gold, trimmed with tassels of

gold and cords of silk, and was suspended from a net
22 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE >

which covered the upper part of the balloon. A
valve was fitted at the top and worked bya cord from
below to allow the gas to escape when it became
necessary to descend, and ballast was carried in the
form of sand-bags. A barometer fastened to the car
completed the outfit of this the first complete aérial
machine. ‘So detailed were the arrangements in the
Charliére, as the hydrogen balloon was called, that
for a hundred years no essential change or improve-
ment took place on Professor Charles’s invention.

On the ist of December, Charles made an ascent
from the gardens of the Tuilleries, accompanied by a
friend named Robert. The balloon rose very gently
in a horizontal direction and quickly reached an
elevation of eighteen hundred feet.

Then the wind carried. them towards Nesles.
Throughout the voyage, which occupied two hours,
the temperature was agreeable, and the aeronauts
had not the slightest apprehension for their safety.
“Finally,” says Charles, “we arrived at the plain of
Nesles, twenty-seven miles from Paris, and prepared
to descend towards a vast meadow. Some trees and
shrubs stood round its border, and, fearing that their
branches might damage the car, I threw over two
pounds of ballast. We rose again, and ran along

more than a hundred yards at the distance of one or
EARLY ASCENTS 23

two feet from the ground, so that we had the appear-
ance of travelling in a sledge. The peasants ran
after us without being able to catch us, like children
pursuing a butterfly in the fields. At last we stopped
and were instantly surrounded. Nothing could equal
the simple and tender regard of these country folk,
their admiration and their lively emotion.”

The aeronauts alighted from the car to receive the
congratulations of those who hurried to the spot.
There was still a large quantity of gas in the balloon,
and Charles in the wild delight of success took it
into his head to ascend alone. He stepped into the
car, and ordered the peasants to let go their hold.
The balloon shot up into the air with lightning
rapidity, for he had forgotten to take in ballast to
compensate for the weight of his friend.

“T passed in ten seconds,” he says, “from the
_ temperature of spring to that of winter. The cold
was keen and dry, but not insupportable. I examined
all my sensations calmly ; I could hear myself live, so
to speak, and I am certain that at first I experienced
nothing disagreeable in this sudden passage from one
temperature to another.”

Soon, however, he began to experience the intense
cold. His fingers became numbed, and he was

conscious of violent pains in his ears and face
24 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

« After being twenty-five minutes in the air, I began
to descend, and on arriving at twenty-three fathoms
from the earth, I suddenly threw over two or three
pounds of ballast, which I had carefully kept for this
purpose. I then slowly descended upon the ground
which I had, so to speak, chosen.”

It is probable that in this ascent Charles reached
a height of four thousand yards, or rather more than
two miles, a height which, without being dangerous,
is quite sufficient to cause the aeronaut strange
feelings, especially if he has travelled at the speed of
an express train “rushing from the earth to the moon
and stopping at the first station.” Strange to say,
Charles never again trusted himself in a balloon, and
for the remainder of his days rested contentedly on
the laurels he had won.

Far different was it with the intrepid Pildtre de
Rosier. In the following year he made an ascent
in a Montgolfiere from Versailles, and alighted at
Compiégne, forty miles away. This was the longest
journey ever performed in a fire-balloon. During
this trip, he reached a height of 11,732 feet above
the earth. “We perceived beneath us only enormous
masses of snow, which, reflecting the sunshine, filled
the firmament with glorious light.”

But Pildtre was more a man of science than an
EARLY ASCENTS 25

adventurer, and he longed to devote his talent to some
other account than that of mere theatrical display.
By combining the Charliére and the Montgolfiére he
hoped to be able to take advantage of whichever
current of air would carry him to a fixed destination.
His idea was that the hydrogen balloon could support
the fire-balloon, while the latter with a small quantity
of fuel could cause an ascent or descent at will.

On the 15th of July 1785, Rosier ascended in his
aero-Montgolfiere, a fire-balloon ten feet in diameter
suspended from an air-balloon thirty-seven feet in
diameter. After being up for about half an hour, and.
when at a height of about three thousand feet, the
balloon exploded. The unfortunate aeronaut was
precipitated to the ground, a mangled mass. Thus
perished the first martyr to the science of ballooning,
and by a strange. coincidence, he was “ the first mortal

to navigate the air.”
CHAPTER ITIL
THE ¥IRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND.

HE Chevalier Vincent Lunardi, a young




Italian, is- distinguished as the “ first
aérial traveller in the English atmo-
sphere.” He made his famous voyage
on the 15th of September 1784. He was at this
time secretary to the Neapolitan Ambassador, and,
fired by an ambition to accomplish in England what
had already been done in France, he applied to Sir
‘George Howard, the governor of Chelsea Hospital,
for permission to launch his balloon from the grounds
of that institution, “as from the altar of humanity to
ascend the skies.”

He did not possess sufficient money to construct a
balloon, and in order to raise the necessary funds, he
proposed that each subscriber of one guinea should be
allowed to view the construction of his wonderful

machine on four different occasions, besides having a
26
THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 27

chair near the globe on the day of ascending. Half
a guinea entitled the subscriber to view the con-
struction twice and to a seat on a bench near the
chairs. After all expenses had been paid, he further
suggested that the balance of the money obtained
should be divided among the pensioners at the
Hospital. The matter was submitted to King George
the Third, and he graciously gave permission for the
use of the grounds.

For a time all went well. Lunardi obtained the
support of several of the leading men of the day,
including Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal
Society. In the enthusiasm of the moment, Lunardi
wrote to a friend: “England is open to all the world,
either in war or peace; and a man of talent, whether
liberal or mechanic, cannot fail of support and
encouragement in proportion to his merits. When
once a circumstance in the situation or character of
a stranger has attracted the attention of an
Englishman, and he ‘has declared himself his protector
- and friend, a reliance may be had on his sincerity,
and the friendship is permanent in duration as it is
slow in growth.”

Shortly afterwards, however, he describes himself
as being overwhelmed with “anxiety, vexation, and

despair.’ A Frenchman named Moret had advertised
28 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

an ascent, and about sixty thousand people assembled
to witness it. They patiently waited for four hours
for the filling and ascension of the balloon; but in
spite of every attempt the globe absolutely refused to
rise. In their disappointment the people imagined
the whole affair to be an imposture, and they rushed
in and tore the balloon to pieces.

This unfortunate accident seriously affected
Lunardi’s prospects. He too was a foreigner, and
was consequently regarded as a colleague of Moret,
and therefore an impostor. Fearing the consequences
of failure, the permission which had been given him
to use Chelsea Gardens was withdrawn. Nor could
he obtain leave to make an ascent from private
grounds, and it seemed as if the venture in the
meantime must be given up.

Though sorely disheartened, he continued his
attempts to obtain a site, and some idea of his tenacity
of purpose may be had from the fact that he declared
that, rather than he beaten, he would launch his
balloon from the street. At length the grounds of
the Honourable Artillery Company were placed at
his disposal, and he hurried on his preparations with
all possible speed.

On the appointed day a hundred and fifty thousand
spectators assembled to witness the great marvel.
THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 29

The Prince of Wales was present, and watched the
filling of the balloon with the greatest interest, all
the time asking many questions and expressing
concern for the safety of the aeronaut. The
catastrophe which Lunardi had all along dreaded,
namely, that of some hitch in the proceedings which
might arouse popular indignation, was very nearly
taking place.

The process by which the balloon was filled with
hydrogen gas was slow and elaborate, and at the time
fixed for the start the balloon was not half inflated.
For some considerable time the crowd waited
patiently, but then they became ‘indignant at the
delay. Fearing to provoke the impatient and
impetuous people, Lunardi decided to ascend, though
the inflation. was not completed.

‘His’ balloon was made of oiled silk in alternate
strips of blue and red, and measured a hundred feet
in circumference. The car was simply a platform
surrounded by a railing about four feet high. The
balloon was provided with wings and oars; the wings
to give it motion, if becalmed, by agitating the air,
and the oars to raise or lower it at will, without
having to use the valve.

He took with him in the car a pigeon, a dog, and
a cat. At two o’clock the last cord which bound him
30 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

to earth was severed, and the balloon rose gracefully
from the Artillery Ground, “amid the most unfeioned
acclamations and applause. The multitude were
more than satistied, and passed at once from
incredulity and menace to the most extravagant
expressions of approbation and joy.” Even among
those who did not witness the actual ascent, the
utmost enthusiasm prevailed. It is even stated that
the king, who was in conference with his ministers
when the balloon was reported to be passing, broke
up the council with the remark that they could
resume their deliberation later, but that they might
never have another chance of seeing Lunardi.

Shortly after having started, the pigeon escaped, and
one of the oars broke and fell to the ground. A
young lady who saw the oar fall thought it was the
body of the aeronaut, and was so affected that she died
the following day.

Lunardi describes his sensations with graphic
detail, and it is interesting to note that they are
exactly similar to those experienced by all aérial
travellers, who naturally expect some extraordinary
sensation in rising from the earth. The ascending
motion was, however, altogether imperceptible, and
instead of the balloon going up, he felt as if the earth
had, by some unaccountable effort of nature, been
THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 31

suddenly precipitated from its hold, and was gradually
sinking into the depths of some mighty abyss
below.

As the earth gradually receded, the objects on it
became less and less; but as they diminished in size
they became more distinct and defined. The streets
appeared as lines all animated with dots, which were
really men and women. The great. metropolis itself
appeared like a table set out with toys—baby houses,
pepper castors, extinguishers, with here and there a
dish-cover—things which are called domes and spires
and steeples. The Thames appeared as a small
winding rivulet; while the largest vessels were no
more than flat, pale decks, like pieces of driftwood on
the water.

Enraptured with the prospect, Lunardi wrote: “It
seemed as if I had left below all the cares and
passions which molest mankind. I had not the
slightest sense of motion in the machine. I knew
not whether it went. swiftly or slowly, whether it
ascended or descended, whether it was agitated or
tranquil; but by the appearance or disappearance of
objects on earth.”

Shortly after three o’clock the balloon descended
in a cornfield on the common of South Mimms,
Here he landed the cat, as the poor animal had
32 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

suffered severely from cold. Having witnessed his
descent, some people came to his assistance; but,
wishing to obtain a second triumph, he ordered them
to stand clear. ‘Then throwing out all his provisions
and ballast, he made a second ascent. He rose very
rapidly, and in a few minutes the car was fringed
with icicles.

“Floating clouds filled up all the space beneath.
Lovely colours outspread themselves, ever varying in
tone and form,—now sweeping in broad lines, now
rolling and heaving in huge, richly, yet softly tinted
billows,—while sometimes through a great opening,
rift, or break appeared a level expanse of grey or
blue fields at an infinite depth below. And all this
time there fell a noiseless cataract of snowy cloud-
rocks, falling swiftly on all sides of the car in great
fleecy masses, in small snow-white and glistening
fragments—all white and soft and swiftly rushing
past giddily and incessantly; down, down, and with
all the silence of a dream, strange, lustrous, majestic,
incomprehensible.”

On this ascent Lunardi obtained his highest
elevation, and at twenty minutes past four descended
in a meadow near Ware in Hertfordshire. He called
on some labourers who were at work in a field to help

him to descend, but they were too much terrified to
THE FIRST ASCENT IN ENGLAND 33

do anything but stare at him open-mouthed. At
length a young woman took hold of one of the cords
which he had thrown out and called on the men to
assist her. They had by this time got over their
astonishment and assisted to drag the balloon to the
earth.

The aeronaut was then taken to the house of Mr.
Baker, the member of Parliament for Hertford, who
treated him “ with frank and generous hospitality.”

The voyage had terminated favourably, but Lunardi
had to pay the penalty of his success, in a severe fit
of sickness brought on by the reaction after the weeks,
of suspense, contempt, and fatigue which he had
undergone. When he recovered he was “the star of
the hour.” He was everywhere received with
applause, respect, and friendship. ‘he Prince of
Wales presented him with a handsome watch, and he
was received at court by the king, who expressed a
warm interest in his adventures and personal safety.

Lunardi made several successful ascents after this
in different parts of the kingdom, and at a subsequent
period in Italy. The favourite of kings and princes,
however, died at Genoa in 1806 in a state of great

poverty.

ua
CHAPTER IV.
ACROSS THE CHANNEL.

OWARDS the close of the year 1784, the
inhabitants of the ancient port of Dover:

were in a state of great excitement, for



it was whispered about that an attempt
was to be made to cross from Dover to France by
balloon. At this time it was the chief ambition of
‘French aeronauts to achieve the first passage across
the Channel, and the remembrance of Lunardi’s
ascent was. still fresh in men’s minds, so that the
preparations for the daring undertaking were watched
by the townsfolk with more than usual interest.

In the courtyard of Dover Castle, a wooden staging
was erected to support the balloon, and arrangements
were ,made for starting on the 1st of January 1785.
A few days before this date, the celebrated French
aeronaut, Blanchard, arrived to complete his prepara-

tions. He was accompanied by an American doctor
34
ACROSS THE CHANNEL 35

named Jeffries, who provided all the necessary funds,
in return for a seat in the car.
Blanchard was very anxious to make the ascent

alone, but the doctor was determined to accompany



M. BLANCHARD,

him, even in spite of the clause which the aeronaut
introduced into their agreement in the hope of shaking
off the persistent medico. By it Jeffries bound him-
self, on his word of honour as a gentleman and an

officer, to jump out of the car the moment his further
36 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

presence and weight should jeopardise the success of
the venture and imperil Blanchard’s life.

On the date fixed for the ascent, the wind was
blowing steadily from the east. It was therefore
impossible to start, and it was not until the 7th of
January that a favourable breeze was obtained. Then
Blanchard announced to the mayor of Dover that it
was his intention to start. In order to give notice to
the inhabitants, the governor of the castle ordered
three cannons to be fired at half-past eight in the
morning, and the whole population of Dover, together
with a great number of strangers, crowded down to
the beach in the greatest expectancy.

At ten o'clock the aeronauts made their final
preparations by testing the strength of the netting,
and the safe condition of the balloon itself. In the
car were nine little bags filled with sand, a barometer,
a thermometer, a compass, some provisions, and two
magnificent flags emblazoned witl the arms of England
and France.

Three hours later, Blanchard and Jeffries entered
the car. They were dressed alike, “in a sort of
brown woollen slop, waistcoat of the same material,
knitted drawers covering the feet, and tight ankle
boots. They both wore leather gloves and a scarlet

woollen comforter twisted several times round their
ACROSS THE CHANNEL 37

necks. Blanchard had a cap of light grey plush,
covering his ears, Jeffries a thick sailor's cap. He
also wore a light girdle of silk, to which were fastened
his watch and hig handkerchief, and beneath which
the form of his favourite snuff-box was evidently
apparent.

At a quarter-past one the balloon was released
from its fastenings; but the weight of the car proved
too great, and it slowly sank instead of ascending.
By throwing overboard nearly all the ballast, however,
it rose gently, and drifted over the Channel, followed
by the cheers of the assembled spectators. The
crowd gazed after the balloon till it appeared as a.
mere speck in the heavens, while those who were the
happy possessors of telescopes were eagerly questioned
as to what was going on. Suddenly the balloon
descended as it were into the sea, and when this was
made known, a cry of horror-arose; but it soon was
seen ascending, and shortly afterwards it quite dis-
appeared from view.

We will now accompany the aeronauts in their
adventurous flight across the Channel. For a time
all went well, and they greatly enjoyed the consterna-
tion which their appearance caused among the crews
of several vessels over which they passed. When
about a third of the journey was accomplished, they
38 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

found that they were rapidly descending, and at
once threw out the remainder of the ballast. The
advantage gained was but momentary, for shortly

afterwards the rising of the mercury in their



























































































































































































































































































BLANCHARD’S BALLOON.

barometer denoted that they were again descending.
Again they lightened the car by throwing out their
books and provisions. The French coast was now in
sight, and success was well within their reach ; but

again the balloon approached perilously near the
ACROSS THE CHANNEL , 39

water. Hastily everything that remained in the car
was thrown out, and when this did not prove enough,
the aeronauts stripped themselves of all but their
most necessary garments. Then the balloon slowly
ascended. :

We can readily imagine the feelings which were
uppermost in Jeffries’ mind at this moment. The
question “ What shall be dispensed with next?” must
have caused him to shudder. Fortunately he was not
called upon to sacrifice himself, for the balloon rose
rapidly, and exactly two hours from the time of
starting, passed over the high ground between Cape
Blane Nez and Calais, “and it is remarkable that the
balloon at this time rose very fast, so that it made a
magnificent arch.”

In passing over the forest of Guines, the two
adventurers descended as low as the tops of the trees
and Dr. Jeffries seized hold of one of the uppermost
branches and brought the balloon to a standstill.
The great machine then became fast between a couple
of oaks, anid the aeronauts got out of their car by the
aid of the branches. When they reached ¢erra jirma
their feelings seem quite to have overcome them, for,
we read, “they fell on each others’ necks.” They
were in a state of excitement closely bordering on

madness. After they had embraced one another,
“40 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

aer

Jeffries shouted out, “ Oh, look, look! you have now
standing before you the two most celebrated men in
all France or England.” And Blanchard added, “ Yes,
indeed, the most celebrated men in the whole world.”
Their only audience was the trees.

Meanwhile two little’ boys who had witnessed the
descent ran off and aroused the inhabitants of the
village, who now came flocking to render assistance to
the daring nien, and offer them hospitality, which was
very welcome, for both Blanchard and his companion
were suffering severely from cold and hunger. When
they were sufficiently refreshed they proceeded to
Calais, where they were welcomed as heroes. Every
honour, even to the freedom of the city, was conferred
on Blanchard. The King of France commanded him
to appear at court, and His Majesty awarded him a
pension of fifty pounds,
CHAPTER V.
FLOOD AND FIRE.

\NE of the most remarkable figures in



the story of balloon experiment and
adventure is Count Zambeccari of
Bologna. A sailor by profession, he
fell into the hands of the Turks in 1787, and was”
kept a close prisoner in the Bagnio at Constantinople
for three years. He had already made several un-
eventful voyages in the clouds, and during his long
captivity, he dreamed of means of guiding himself
once more upon the waves of air. His idea was
that by burning oil or spirits of wine under an
inverted parachute, a balloon could be made to
ascend ten times higher and ten times more rapidly
than by the simple method of throwing sand over-
board. :

Accordingly, when he regained his liberty, he
hastened to England in the hope of obtaining the

41
42 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

funds necessary for the experiment; but in this he
was disappointed. The danger of fire was a risk too
great to be overlooked in his proposals, and so his
scheme was not regarded with favour. But to such
aman as Zambeccari, fear did not exist. He there-
fore made his way to his native Italy. At Bologna
he succeeded in raising the money, and an ascent
was arranged in company with Dr. Grassetti and
Pascal Andreoli.

The ascent took place at night, in a fire-balloon,
which Zambeccari had made more dangerous and
complicated than it was already, by the addition of
a rudder:- The intention of the aeronauts was to
take advantage of the strong north-east wind which
was blowing and journey to Milan. They took with
them instruments and a lantern by which to make
observations. :

The departure was badly regulated, and from the
first misfortune followed them. The lamp, which was
intended to increase their power of ascent, became
useless, and the light of their lantern was too feeble
to enable them to observe their instruments. The
balloon ascended with great rapidity, and in an in-
credibly short time they found themselves in a
region of excessive cold. The suddenness of the
change of temperature, coupled with the fact that
FLOOD AND FIRE 43

Zambeccari had scarcely broken his fast for twenty-
four hours, produced their natural result. He fell
on the floor of the car in a deathlike faint. Grassetti
also became unconscious. Andreoli alone preserved
his senses; but even he suffered excessively. His
whole attention was now occupied in trying to revive
his companions. Zambeccari was the first to recover,
and like a man newly awakened from a dream, asked
his companion—

“What is the news? Where are we? What
time is it?”

Andreoli answered that the compass was broken
and their whereabouts was therefore a mystery; but
as he spoke, a sound, muffled and almost inaudible,
fell on his ear. “Ah, the breaking of waves!” he
cried. In fearful anxiety the two men listened. It
was now about three o’clock in the morning, and the
balloon was slowly descending through a layer of
whitish clouds. The noise of waves, tossing in wild
uproar, became louder and louder. The next instant
the horrified aeronauts saw the sea below them
violently agitated. Zambeccari seized a large bag
of sand; but, before he could throw it overboard, the
car touched the waves, and the waters of the Adriatic
poured through the slender basket-work.

_ The panic-stricken aeronauts blindly cast out
44 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

everything they could lay their hands on. Without
‘a word being spoken, without pausing to think what
would be the consequences, they threw into the sea
their money, instruments, ballast, and clothing. Still
the balloon did not rise. Then with knives they set
desperately to work, and cut away everything that
was not absolutely necessary to the balloon. Thus
lightened, they ascended with fearful rapidity to such
a prodigious elevation, that they had great difficulty
in hearing each other, even when shouting at the top
of their voices.

The adventurers suffered severely. They were
suddenly covered with a coating of ice; Zambeccari’s
fingers were frozen and he could no longer make use
of his hands, Grassetti lay in the bottom of the car
-hardly showing any signs of life, Andreoli bled pro-
fusely. On a parallel with them, the astonished men
saw the moon shining, red as blood. After travers-
ing these elevated, icy regions for about half an hour,
the balloon again fell into the sea.. It was pitch
dark, and the aeronauts, worn out by what they had
already endured, abandoned themselves to the fate
which seemed inevitable. The balloon was now more
than half empty, and acted as a sail, which dragged
the car through the waves. Often it was entirely
covered with water.
FLOOD AND FIRE 45

At length the welcome daylight appeared, and
showed the half-drowned men that they were with-
in four miles of the shore, and rapidly driving
towards it. But they were again doomed to disap-
pointment. Suddenly a land wind sprang up, and
carried them out to sea. Some boats put off from
the shore, and for a time the hope of rescue lightened
their hearts; but when the sailors came near enough
to make out the curious object, they made all sail
to get away from the spot as quickly as possible.

“Tt was now,” says Zambeccari, “broad daylight,
but all we could see was the sea, the sky, and the
death that threatened us.” Fortunately, at the last
moment a vessel hove in sight, and the captain, better
informed than the others, saw at once what had
happened, and sent his boat to their rescue. The
sailors threw the weary adventurers a stout rope,
which they had only sufficient strength to fasten to
the car. They were drawn on board fainting with
- exposure. Their perilous voyage had occupied eight
hours.

Relieved of the weight of the aeronauts, the balloon
rose at once into the air, in spite of the efforts of the
sailors to capture it. The boat received a severe shock
from its ascent, as the rope was still attached to it, so
the sailors hastened to cut themselves free. At once
46 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

the balloon mounted with incredible rapidity, and was
lost in the clouds, where it disappeared for ever from
their view.

The captain of the vessel did everything in his
power to relieve the suffering of his guests. He
carried them to Ferrara, and they made their way to
Pola, where they were welcomed with great kindness.
Here Zambeccari had to have his frozen fingers
amputated.

In spite of this terrible warning, the adventurous
sailor-aeronaut was determined to make another
experiment with his spirit-lamp. Accordingly, on the
21st of September 1812 he made an ascent from
Bologna, along with a companion named Signor
Bonaga. The upward journey was accomplished in
safety and without adventure. On descending, how-
ever, the grapnel caught suddenly in a tree. The
suddenness and violence of the shock overturned the
lamp and set the whole machine on fire. The two
men instantly jumped from the car. Bonaga was
picked up fearfully injured; but he escaped with his
life. Zambeccari was killed on the spot.
CHAPTER VI.
TIE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING.

‘afi HE most remarkable figure in connection



with ballooning in England is that of
Charles Green. His career lasted for
thirty-six years, during which he made
fourteen hundred ascents. “Three times he crossed
the sea, and twice he fell into it. To him are due
two important improvements in the management of
balloons—the use of ordinary coal gas for inflation,
and the introduction of the guide-rope. This is a
rope several hundred feet long, which is allowed to
hang downwards from the car, and by means of
which the aeronaut is able to regulate the height to
which his balloon rises. If the balloon sinks very
low, a considerable length of the guide-rope rests on:
the ground. The balloon, thus lightened, rises again.
If it ascends too high, the weight of the rope tends
to bring it down again, and so a uniform elevation is

rendered possible.
47
48 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

Green with his unique experience reduced balloon-
ing to a routine, and few accidents attended his
ascents, which were not, however, without adventure.
The greatest of all the veteran’s dangers, however,
was caused by a most malicious trick, the perpetrator
of which was unfortunately never discovered.

In the year 1832 he ascended from Cheltenham.
The balloon rose from the ground steadily; but no
sooner was weight put on the car, than it fell over,
and the contents were thrown to the ground. Some
one. had partially cut the ropes of the car in such a
way that the damage was not noticed till its effects
were experienced. The aeronaut and his companion
had only time to seize hold of the hoop to save
themselves from being dashed to the ground. The
balloon flew upwards with frightful velocity, and
before Green could obtain possession of the valve
string, which the first violence of the accident had
placed beyond his reach, an altitude of upwards of
ten thousand feet had been reached.

Their danger was terrific. They clung to the hoop.
with desperate energy, not daring to trust any portion,
of their weight upon the margin of the car, which
hung suspended by a single cord beneath their feet.
Their only hope of safety lay in their ability to hang
on till the exhaustion of the gas made the balloon.
THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 49

descend. To the horror of their situation a fresh
danger was added. Under the strain of the unequal
pressure the network which covered the globe began
to give way. Mesh after mesh broke with a suc-
cession of reports like the discharge of a pistol.
_ Through the opening thus created, the balloon began
to ooze slowly out, and presently took the form of .
a huge hour-glass floating in the upper air. Truly a
singular and awful spectacle.

Thus the aeronauts hung for a considerable time,
expecting every moment to be hurled to the earth
by the escape of the balloon. At length they began
to descend. When within a few feet from the
ground, the catastrophe they had so long dreaded
took place-——the balloon, forcing its way through the
netting, escaped with a loud explosion, and the
aeronauts fell to the earth insensible. It was at
first feared that they were dead; but with great
difficulty they were at length restored to consciousness
and health,

Green’s balloon, one of the most famous and longest-
lived aerostats of which any record has been kept, was
called the “Great Nassau,” and it received its name
after accomplishing a most remarkable journey from
London to Germany. It was constructed by Green

himself of the finest silk, specially spun, woven, and
i
50 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

dyed. It was pear-shaped, sixty feet in height, fifty
in breadth, and had a capacity of eighty-five thousand
cubic feet. The car measured nine feet long and
four broad. It was oval in shape, and the bottom
was fitted with a cushion, which could be used as a
bed if necessary.

On the 7th of November 1836, Green, accompanied
by two friends, Mason and Holland, set out. They
carried a fortnight’s provisions, and, not knowing to
what quarter of the Continent they might be blown,
they had provided themselves with passports to every
country in Europe. Borne on a fresh breeze, the
balloon sailed in a south-easterly direction over Kent, —
and at four o'clock, three hours after they started,
they came in sight of the sea. They now came
under the influence of a current setting towards the
north, which would inevitably have carried them out
over the open sea. A quantity of ballast was therefore
thrown out, and the balloon rose until a favourable
stream of south-western air was reached. ;

Without a thought of danger the voyagers left
England and floated above the Channel. Behind
them, the white cliffs sparkled with many lights ;
below, the water was dotted here and there at great
distances with vessels whose lights glimmered and
twinkled like distant stars as the ships rose and fell
























































































































































































































































































































































































DEATH OF AN AERONAUT.
51



THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 53

on the waves; before them hung a huge black cloud-
curtain, stretched from sea to sky as though to bar
their farther advance. Into its folds they plunged,
and then they heard nothing, saw nothing, till at the
end of an hour the well-known lights of Calais shone
ahead.

Preparations were now made to pass the night in
as great safety and comfort as possible. A lamp was
lighted and hung so as to prevent all danger of explo-
sion, and the provisions were spread out. “ With
many a joke,” says Mason, “touching the high flavour
and exalted merits of our several viands, which, how-
ever agreeable under the circumstances, will not bear
repeating, we contrived to do ample justice to the
good cheer.”

Darkness overhung the landscape, and for miles, as
far as the eye could reach, nothing could be seen but
clusters of lights indicating the, position of a town,
while away on the horizon glowed a dull red mist,
like the reflection of some mighty conflagration, which
when reached proved to be only the peaceful lights of
a busy town. Streets, squares, and the whole plan of
a town, drawn by the lamps, could be easily traced by
the voyagers as the balloon hurried them from point
to point.

“Tt would be difficult to give an idea of what sort
54 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

of effect such a scene in such circumstances produces.
To find oneself transported in the darkness of night,
in the midst of vast solitudes of air, unknown, unper-
ceived, in secret and in silence, exploring territories,
traversing kingdoms, watching towns which come into
view and pass away again before one can examine
them in detail, is grand—sublime.”

Towards midnight all signs of life disappeared, and,
as is the custom in continental towns, the lights were
extinguished. There was no moon, and the brilliancy
of the stars served but to make the gloom more
apparent. To the voyagers it seemed as if they were
making their way through an interminable abyss.
The solitude was profound. This, together with their
ignorance of their whereabouts, heightened the novelty
of their situation. Thus they sailed on till three
o’clock in the morning, not, however, without consider-
able suffering from the cold, which froze all the liquors
in the car. ;

Shortly afterwards, the aeronauts were startled by
a sudden explosion. The silk quivered, and the car,
violently shaken, sunk into the gloomy abyss. There
was not time to ask “What's happened?” when a
second and a third shock followed, threatening to
wrench the basket from its fastenings. It was after-

wards found that one of the ropes, soaked with water
\ ;
THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 55

and made rigid by the intense cold, had yielded to the
pressure of the expanding gas, and so caused the
alarming shock.

When day dawned, the aeronauts looked anxiously
abroad, in the hope of discovering their. position, but
without success. They accordingly decided to effect
a landing at the first suitable spot. Their first
attempt failed, for so great was the force of the wind
. near the earth, that the balloon was swept towards a
wood, and accident was only averted by skilful
handling. Another attempt was successful, and about
seven o’clock in the morning the anchor held in a
valley near the town of Weilburg in the duchy of
Nassau. The journey of five hundred miles had
occupied eighteen hours. i

The hospitable Germans welcomed the wanderers
with great enthusiasm, and before they left for
England, one of their lady admirers bestowed on the
trusty balloon the name of “The Great Balloon of
Nassau.”

“Thus,” says Mason, “ended an expedition which,
whether we regard the length of the journey or the
- time occupied in it, may justly be considered as one
of the most interesting and most important ever
undertaken.”

One of Green’s favourite and most frequently
\

56 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

quoted sayings was—“ The best parachute is a balloon;
‘the others are bad things to have to deal with;” and
indeed he had good grounds for his opinion. On the
24th of July 1837 he ascended from London for the
purpose of testing a new parachute. The inventor,
Robert Cocking, thought he had discovered the true
principle on which parachutes should be made.
Previous to his time, they had been constructed ‘so as
to descend in a concave form, like that of an open
umbrella. The aeronaut came down in a basket, not, as
in more modern times, suspended from a ring, and the
swinging was so violent during the descent, that some-
times the basket was almost in a horizontal position.
Cocking determined to remedy this, and constructed a
parachute in the form of a large inverted cone. The
large upper rim was made of hollow tin, a most brittle
and therefore unsuitable material.

Experts were by no means satisfied with Cocking’s
invention; but all they could say failed to shake his
confidence in his parachute. Accordingly on the
eventful day he went up dangling by a rope, fifty feet
long, from the bottom of the car of Green’s “Great
Nassau” balloon. Knowing well what would happen
the instant the great weight of the parachute was
detached, the aeronaut provided a small balloon inside
the car, filled with atmospheric air, and fitted with
THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 57

two mouthpieces for himself and the friend who
accompanied him.

Green made the trip sorely against his better
judgment, and he was so ill at ease regarding the ©
termination of the adventure, that he refused to touch
the latch which was to free the parachute from the
balloon. This presented no obstacle to Cocking, who
procured a line of the required length and had it
fastened to the latch above and led down to the
basket of the parachute.

Considerable difficulty was experienced in rising to a
suitable height, partly owing to the resistance to the
air by the expanded parachute, and partly owing to
its weight, which was about halfa ton. At length,
when the Great Nassau was over Greenwich at an
elevation of about a mile, Green called out, “ How
do you feel, Mr. Cocking?” Though a distance of
fifty feet separated the aeronauts, each syllable was
heard with perfect distinctness in the silence of that
region, of which they were for the time being the
only inhabitants.

“Never better in my life,” replied Cocking.

“But perhaps you will alter your mind,” suggested
Green..

< By no means,” answered Cocking warmly; “ but

how high are we?”
58 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

“Upwards of a mile.”

“T must go higher, Mr. Green. I must be taken
up two miles before I liberate the parachute.”

The aeronaut replied that this was impossible if he
wished to descend by daylight.

“Very well,” said Cocking; “if you will not really
take me any higher, I shall say good-bye.”

Again Green tried to save his friend from what he
regarded as.a foolish risk, and called out, “ Now, Mr.
Cocking, if your mind at all misgives you about your
parachute, I have provided a tackle up here, which I
can lower down to you, and haul you up into the car,
and nobody need be the wiser.”

“Certainly not, thank you all the same. I shall
now make ready to pull the latch cord.”

“ Good-night, Mr. Cocking.”

“Good-night, Mr. Green. A pleasant voyage to
you; good-night.”

There was a silence, as awful as it was perfect, and
the aeronauts above felt a jerk upon the latch; but it
was not sufficient to detach the parachute. There
were a few seconds of intense suspense, then a
vigorous pull was given—the balloon bounded aloft,
and Cocking in his parachute descended slowly and
steadily towards the earth. So far his invention fully
realised his expectations. All went well for a few
THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 59

minutes, when suddenly those below who were watch-
ing with glasses gave a loud cry of horror.

The parachute leaned on’ one side and then lurched
to the other. The tin tubing had evidently given way,
for the large upper circle collapsed. For a few
seconds it was hid in a cloud, and when it came in
sight again, the whole thing turned over, and then, like
a closed-up umbrella, it shot straight down to the earth.
“The descent was so rapid,” says an eye-witness, “ that
the mean rate of the fall was not less than twenty
yards a second.” Within three hundred feet from the
ground the basket became detached. This completed
the catastrophe. Cocking was found in a field at Lee,
quite insensible. On being lifted, he uttered a moan ;
and in ten minutes he was dead.

Meanwhile, how had the aeronauts fared in the
Great Nassau? With a sidelong swirl the balloon
sprang upward, the two men crouching down in the
car, while Green clung to the valve line to allow the
gas to escape. So rapid was their flight that the
resistance of the air prevented the gas from escaping
at the top, and it came rushing downwards, At once
they seized the mouthpieces of the atmospheric air
balloon, and to these they owed their lives, for the
gas continued to pour down upon them for so long a

time, and in such volume, that they would certainly
60 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

have been suffocated. As it was, they were com-
pletely blinded for some minutes. At length the
Great Nassau, having attained a height of nearly
twenty-four thousand feet, slowly descended, and the
aeronauts safely reached the ground near Maidstone.
Many pages might be filled with the thrilling
narrative of Green’s adventures, but one other must
suffice. On one occasion, in company with a gentle-
man named Rush, he was blown out to sea in the
Great Nassau. Seeing some vessels from which he
knew he should obtain assistance, he commenced a
rapid descent in the direction of the Nore. The car
struck the water about.two miles north of Sheerness.
The wind was blowing fresh, and, owing to the
buoyancy of the balloon, and the enormous surface it
" presented, it was swept over the water at a speed
which left the boats that had come to the rescue far
behind. So great indeed was its progress, that the
aeronauts were drageed through every wave, and
there was every prospect of them being drowned.
Seeing that they could not be overtaken, Green by
a clever mancuvre threw over his large ‘grapnel.
Fortunately, in their course lay a sunken wreck, and
in its shell-covered sides the iron eventually got a
hold and arrested their headlong flight. A boat soon
came up and by means of ropes rescued the voyagers.
THE FATHER OF MODERN BALLOONING 61

The danger was not yet over, however, for no boat
could venture near the aerial monster, which struggled,
and tossed, and bounded from side to side. It would
have capsized in an instant any boat that came near.
It was impossible to do anything till the services of
an armed boat’s crew were obtained from a revenue
cutter. The men fired muskets loaded with ball
cartridge into the restive globe, and it sank down life-
less upon the waves; but not before the silk had been ©
riddled with twenty-six bullet-holes,
CHAPTER VII.
OVER THE ALPS.

N the early days of the year 1846 a
balloon rose slowly over the Alps;



“that gigantic obstacle which even
the most daring aeronauts avoid with
unspeakable fear.” In the car sat a solitary aeronaut

a young man named Arban. Darkness came on,
bringing storm in its train, and the balloon was swept
into the midst of those lofty white-mantled peaks.
The moon came out from behind the clouds, spread-
ing a silvery shimmer over peak and pinnacle and
precipice of snow, and revealing to the gaze of the
daring adventurer a sight such as no mortal eye had
ever beheld.

All night long the storm raged, and the aeronaut,
struggling against the almost overpowering influence
of the intense cold, doled out his ballast grain by grain.

Again and again he was in danger of being precipitated
62 E
OVER THE ALPS 63

into the immense crevices of the Mer de Glace, or
crushed against the towering peaks. In the midst of
this appalling situation he exulted in the knowledge
that he sailed among the mountains over which human
foot had never trod. Then occurred to him the curious
idea of throwing a bottle overboard, which might serve
as a witness to future centuries that a French aeronaut
had crossed there.

When day dawned, he found himself over the plains
of Piedmont, and shortly afterwards descended at a
small village four miles from Turin, to which city he
was carried by the enthusiastic people in a triumphal
procession.

A few months later Arban made an ascent from
Trieste. On this occasion the car was too heavy for
the balloon to raise. The wind was plowing a hurri-
cane; but this could not deter him from descending.
With the rapidity of thought, he detached the car
from the globe, and before the assembled people
realised what he was doing he flew upwards into
space. The wind carried him rapidly towards the
Adriatic, and as he disappeared from view, he was
seen standing upon the hoop, saluting the crowd
with one hand and holding on to the cords of the
balloon with the other.

Fearing disaster, a number of boats set out to aid
64 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

him; but they returned at nightfall without having
even had a sight of the balloon.

Meanwhile Arban, after reaching a great elevation,
gradually approached nearer and nearer to the waves.
He had no means of rising, and was soon immersed
in the stormy waters of the Adriatic. But the balloon,
though too weak to support his weight in the air, had
still sufficient buoyancy to drag him through the
water. For hours he was trailed over the sea, now
plunged in the waves, now carried over them, as
the balloon rose and fell with the varying wind.
Night came on. His limbs were stiff and cold.
Even his herculean frame could not long withstand
these rude shocks, and he felt his strength rapidly
failing. Still he clung to the hoop with indomitable
energy. His eyes closed, and he knew no more until —
the sound of oars fell on his ear, and he cried
for help with all his remaining strength. His ery
was answered. Some sailors returning from the
Italian shore quickly rowed towards him and saved
his life.

This daring and impetuous aeronaut met his death
a few years later in an ascent from Barcelona. His
wife was to accompany him; but as the wind blew
off the land, Arban refused to expose her to so great

a danger, and set off alone. His car was last seen
OVER THE ALPS 65

like a mere speck in the heavens. The “Spaniards
waited for several days for tidings of the traveller ;
but none came. His career had come to an end in
the depths of the Mediterranean.
CHAPTER VIII

STRANGE ADVENTURES.



N the summer of the year 1847,
the veteran aeronaut Henry Coxwell,
accomplished what is “without doubt
the most perilous descent in the
annals of aerostation.” In the first half of the
present century there were numerous pleasure-gardens
in London, from which balloon ascents were of frequent
occurrence. Ever on the search for sensation, the
manager of one of these gardens arranged for a balloon
ascent by night with a firework display by the aeronaut.

A balloonist named Mr. Gypson undertook the
difficult and dangerous task, and invited Coxwell to
accompany him. The day chosen for the ascent gave
every indication of suitable weather. Not a breath of
wind stirred the trees. The balloon was successfully
inflated, and a framework was attached to which the

fireworks were fastened.
66
STRANGE ADVENTURES _ 67

When all was in readiness for the start, the sky
became overcast, the atmosphere close and oppressive,
flashes of lightning were seen in the sky, and the
distant rumble of thunder gave warning of an approach-
ing storm. Then the question arose, Was the ascent
to take place or not? Some were of the opinion that
to go up under such conditions was highly dangerous,
and would be sure to end in disaster; others thought
that the weather should make no difference, and that
there was no more danger in ascending then than at
any other time. Coxwell favoured the latter view,
and declared that if an immediate ascent was made,
and everything in order and managed properly, no
harm could possibly result.

The two aeronauts, accompanied by two friends,
accordingly entered the car. Coxwell jumped up
into the hoop to see that the neck of the balloon was
clear and to give notice to Gypson when the valve
required to be opened. The cable was slipped, and,
amid the shouts of the spectators, the balloon rose,
leaving behind it a train of fire in ever-changing
colours. All went well till they had attained an
altitude of some four thousand feet, when a blinding
flash of lightning appeared and a splitting thunder-
crash was heard apparently right over the balloon.

The crowds in the garden no less than the aeronauts
68 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

were impressed with the sudden and awful report, and
a profound silence reigned for a few minutes,

The balloon still ascended with great rapidity, and
Coxwell, from his seat in the hoop, saw that the silk
was greatly distended. On prompt and skilful conduct
alone depended their safety. A few more blinding
flashes followed. The globe seemed on the point of
bursting. Now was the time to open the valve and
allow some gas to escape. Coxwell endeavoured by
signs to warn Gypson of the danger, but the aeronaut
paid no attention. At last Coxwell shouted out, “If
the valve is not opened the balloon will burst.” As
he spoke, the car dropped several feet. In terror the
aeronauts looked up, fearing that the network had
given way, but it was so dark that they could see
nothing except the gaslit metropolis rushing up to
meet them at fearful speed. Their headlong fall was
suddenly stayed, and a vivid flash of lightning enabled
them to see what had happened. The view was by
no means reassuring. The silk was torn right across
for about sixteen feet. Death seemed inevitable.

All this time Coxwell had remained jin the hoop,
and it was indeed fortunate that he did so. As they
fell, he noticed that the line which connected the neck
of the balloon was strained to its utmost tension, and
he thought that if he.cut it, the lower half of the


A TERRIBLE MOMENT.

69



STRANGE ADVENTURES 71

balloon would expand and form a kind of parachute
which would moderate the rapidity of their descent.
Contrary to the wishes of his companions, he did so,
- and at once their downward flight was checked; but
all danger was not yet over. Indeed, it seemed as if
they had only exchanged one danger for another still
more terrible, for “the sparks from the paper cases
shot up among the gas through the tear in the silk,
and once more the thunder roared, and the lightning
flashed, so that a more frightful descent to the earth
could not possibly be imagined.”

As they neared the ground, ballast - bags were
collected and the grapnel was got ready for use,
though there seemed but little chance of either being
effective among the thickly clustering houses and hard
pavements. Fortunately the balloon fell in a newly-
formed street in the west end of London, while the
network caught in some scaffold poles, so that the
force of their fall was greatly broken, and they all
reached the ground uninjured.

Another ascent which Coxwell made on the 16th
of October 1853 is also well worth recording, on
account of the amusing as well as the dangerous
aspect of the adventure, and as showing that after the
aeronaut had safely passed the perils of the air, he had

often others, no less real, to encounter on land.
72 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

On the day already mentioned, Coxwell had
arranged an ascent from one of the pleasure-gardens
in the east end of London, But the morning broke
wet and windy, and it was feared that the exhibition
would have to be postponed, As the day wore on,
the sun broke through the clouds, and the wind
moderated. All preparations were made, and every-
one stood at his place waiting for the signal from the
aeronaut to inflate the balloon.

It was late in the afternoon before the word was
given, and at six o’clock, the Sylph, as the balloon
was called, was not quite half full. This presented a
serious difficulty, for the wind had risen again, and
was blowing in fitful gusts,’ which the balloon in its
present state was ill calculated to withstand. Owing
also to the lateness of the hour, only another half-
hour could be spent in inflating. Fortunately this
was sufficient to give the Sylph the necessary ascend-
ing power.

The balloon rose rapidly; but a sudden gust of
wind, more violent than the rest, caught the machine,
and drove it along in a downward direction. Quickly
Coxwell threw out two bags of sand; but this was
not sufficient to enable the Sylph to rise, and to his
horror, he saw himself carried directly towards a tall

chimney. A collision was certain, and he had only
STRANGE ADVENTURES 93

time to seize hold of the edge of the car when the
crash took place. Down hurtled the bricks and
mortar, while the balloon, undamaged, soared aloft on
the freshening breeze.

In a short time the barometer indicated an
immense elevation, As he did not wish to go any
higher, the aeronaut pulled the valve line; but no
amount of tugging would open the shutters. On
looking to see what was the cause of the hitch, he
found that, in the hurry of filling the balloon, a fold
had been allowed to form in the silk. This effect-
ually prevented the valve from working, so there was
nothing for it but to allow the’ balloon to take its
own course, and wait till the gas had exhausted itself,
sufficient to permit of a descent.

After attaining an elevation of two miles and a
half, the Sylph began to travel towards the earth.
“On the descent,” says Coxwell, “I noticed a splendid
meteor, which was below the level of the car, and
apparently about six hundred feet distant. It was
blue and yellow, moving rapidly in a north-easterly
direction, and became extinguished without noise or
sparks—its size was half that of the moon. I could
not but feel that if such another visitor were to cross
my path, the end of the Sylph and its master would
be at hand.”
74 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

Shortly after eight o’clock, the balloon descended
in a field near Basingstoke. It was by this time
quite dark, and as far as the eye could reach, there
was no sign of a dwelling. Not knowing where he
was, Coxwell shouted in the hope of attracting some
passer-by ; but no answer was returned, and he began
to fear that he had landed in some very outlandish
place. He continued, however, to shout till he was
hoarse, but with no better result, so he reluct-
antly made up his mind to spend the night in the
car. ‘

After a supper of sandwiches, he lay down and
tried to sleep; but the thought that perhaps he might
be able to obtain assistance at no great distance kept
him awake, and he determined to explore the neigh-
bourhood. Crossing the field, he came to a gate
which led intoa lane. Cautiously the aeronaut groped
his way by the side of the hedge, and in a quarter of
an hour he saw the welcome glimmer of a light in
the window of a farmhouse.

“Now my troubles are over,” thought Coxwell as
he clambered over the stile; but they were only just
beginning. Hardly had he reached the top bar when
a great fierce Newfoundland dog rushed at him.
Without pausing to see whether the animal was
chained or not, he took to flight, nor did he pause or
STRANGE ADVENTURES 75

look back till he had gained the safety of the field in
which his balloon lay.

Such an experience was not to be repeated, so he
lay down again in the car. Just as he was dozing
off, he heard voices coming in his direction, and
thinking that some villagers who might have seen the
balloon descend were coming to his assistance, he got
up and shouted, “ Here I am, and the balloon all safe.”
At once the talking ceased, and a gentle hush occurred,
followed by the sound of hurried footsteps in full
retreat. Coxwell shouted that they had nothing to
fear; but his voice only accelerated their flight.

He then came to the conclusion that there must be
houses at no great distance, and resolved to make one
more attempt to procure assistance. Arming himself
with a stout piece of iron, he sallied forth, and after
walking about two miles, he came to a number of
cottages. He strolled up the chief street of the
village, and in turning a corner suddenly, he found
himself face to face with a workman on his way
home. Coxwell lost no time in making known his
condition; but his story excited suspicion instead of
sympathy, and the only help he could get out of the
man was a recommendation to make known his wants
at the village inn.

He hurried off in the direction indicated, and on
76 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

the way met a policeman. Going up to the officer, he
asked him where he was, and explained the circum-
stances. Again he was met with distrust, and in reply
to his question, “ What county am I in ?” the constable
gaid, “You don’t know what county yow’re in, don’t
you? Well, if you don’t clear out of this, you'll know
that you’re in the county gaol soon enough.”

Finding that it was only wasting words to try and
get any information, Coxwell set off for the inn; but
when he arrived the whole place was in darkness, and
no answer was given to his repeated knocks. In
disgust he turned away and went back to his balloon
in the field, where he spent the night.

Early on the following morning some farm labourers
on their way to work across the field found the
balloon, and helped Coxwell to exhaust the gas. He
breakfasted with the farmer, and afterwards went
down to the inn, where the mysterious treatment of
the previous night was explained. A few days before
a gang of thieves had robbed many of the shops and
houses, and every stranger was looked upon with
distrust. The landlord said he had heard his knock-
ing; but he had been warned by the policeman that
there was a dangerous fellow about, so he did not open
the door. In expressing regret for the unfriendly
reception the aeronaut had had, the landlord said at
STRANGE ADVENTURES 17

parting, “ Another thing, you must not forget that you
have come among the Hampshire hogs, and that a
grunt or two is all in character.”

In an ascent from the Crystal Palace on the 18th
of April 1863, Coxwell had a very narrow escape.
On this occasion he was accompanied by Glaisher the
scientist. The start did not augur well for a pleasant
voyage, for suddenly the rope which held the balloon
to the ground broke, and the aeronauts were started
on their trip sooner than they intended. The balloon

rose rapidly, and in less than a quarter of an hour

reached the height of ten thousand feet. Here they
encountered a strong southward current of air which
bore the balloon along at a rapid pace. They were
shut in by the clouds, and had no idea of their
whereabouts; but as the barometer now indicated
an elevation of twenty-four thousand feet, there was
no cause for any uneasiness.

When the aeronauts had been in the air about an
hour and a half, they thought it advisable to descend
in order to find out their position. A rapid drop
brought them out of the clouds, and within ten
thousand feet of the earth. Suddenly Coxwell, who
was looking over the side of the car, cried out, “ What’s
that?” His companion joined him, and they were
not long in making out their position. There was not
78 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

a moment to spare, for below them lay the bold
promontory of Beachy Head, and they were almost
directly above the sea.

“Quick !” shouted Coxwell; “ we must save the land
at all risks. Leave the instruments—everything.”

Both men seized the valve line and hung on for
dear life; and with such energy that they not only
opened the valve, but also tore a large rent in the
surrounding silk. The balloon descended almost in
a straight line, and the car was dashed to the earth
with a shock that shattered the instruments; but the
aeronauts’ lives were saved. A few seconds more and
the balloon would have struck the sea.

Some idea of the speed of the fall may be formed
from the fact that ten thousand feet were passed in
four minutes,

Two years later Coxwell had a similar experience
in an ascent from Belfast. On this occasion he took
up with him a number of passengers. Seeing that the
balloon was approaching the sea, they became alarmed,
and one of their number seized the valve line with
such violence that it broke. The danger was now real,
so Coxwell gave the order for all to leave the car
together, the moment its downward tendency brought
it within a safe anchoring distance of the ground,
His commands were obeyed, as he thought, by every-
STRANGE ADVENTURES 79

one. Two persons were, however, left behind, and the
lightened balloon bounded upward for some distance.
Fortunately it came within reach again, and they were
got out.

The balloon again got free, and was afterwards
picked up on the shore of Lurgan Bay anchored with-

in a few paces of the sea.
CHAPTER IX.
SEVEN MILES HIGH.

HE highest ascent on record was accom:
plished on the 5th of September 1862
by Mr. Coxwell, the hero of the previous



chapter, accompanied by the well-known
scientist, Mr. T. Glaisher, This was the most important
of the eight scientific ascents made on behalf of the
British Association at this time. The fittings of the
car were arranged with the utmost care. Glaisher
had a specially prepared table fixed in the basket,
on and attached to which were about thirty different
instruments, so placed that each could be easily con- _
sulted. Indeed, nothing was left undone that was
likely to ensure the success of the voyage and the
accuracy of the observations.

Accordingly, on the day named, the balloon made a
rapid ascent from Wolverhampton, shortly after one
o'clock. All went well, aud in about half an hour
SEVEN MILES HIGH 81

they had reached a height of four miles. Still the
balloon ascended. All this time Glaisher was fully
occupied with his observations; but suddenly he

became conscious of a dimness of sight, and soon



MESSRS. GLAISHER AND COXWELL IN THEIR BALLOON,

could not read any of the fine divisions of his
instruments. They were now over five miles high.
Alarming as was this experience, it was as nothing to
what followed.

Wishing to enter an observation in his notebook,
6
82 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

Glaisher found that his right arm was powerless—a
moment before it had been possessed of full vigour.
He tried his left-arm—it also was useless. He struggled
and shook his body; but he could not move his arms.
‘He looked at the barometer, and whilst doing so, his
head fell back, resting on the edge of the car. In this
position, he says, “I dimly saw Mr. Coxwell, and tried
to speak; but could not. In an instant, intense
darkness overcame me; but I was still conscious, with
as active a brain as at the present moment while
writing this.” Then he became insensible.

At the moment Glaisher was seized with partial
blindness, the valve line became entangled, and
Coxwell had to leave the car and go up into the ring
to readjust it. The task was not easy. The cold was
intense, and hoar-frost had gathered all round the
neck of the balloon. When at leneth matters were
put right, and the aeronaut prepared to return to the
car, he found his hands were frozen. He had there-
fore to place his arms in the ring and drop down. -

Glaisher was by this time lying insensible in the
bottom of the car. The looseness of his attitude and
the calm expression on his features alarmed Coxwell,
and he attempted to move forward to see if his com-
panion was still alive; but he too was powerless.

Unconsciousness was rapidly overtaking him. He
SEVEN MILES HIGH | 83

knew that unless a descent was made, and that
speedily, they could not reach land alive. His hands
were powerless; but with the energy of determination
he seized the valve line in his teeth, and dipped his
head till the balloon began to descend.

He next turned his attention to his companion.
The first words of which Glaisher became conscious
were “temperature ” and “observation ”; but he could
neither see, speak, nor move. Gradually his faculties
returned, and he sat up and looked round like a man
who had just awakened from sleep. “I have been
insensible,”’ he said.

“You have,” replied Coxwell; “and I too very
nearly.”

He then resumed his former position, and with note-
book and pencil in hand, continued his observations
as if nothing had happened. One cannot but admire
his heroic sense of duty. Even in this critical moment
he gave no thought to self, his whole mind being de-
voted to the obtaining of observations that would be
of value to science.

Slowly the balloon descended, and at last came to
the earth seven miles from Ludlow. No conveyance
could be obtained, and a long compulsory walk to that
town finished the day. Neither of the aeronauts

experienced any bad effects from their perilous adven-
84 . STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

ture. From careful observation ‘and calculation,
Glaisher estimated that they reached the extraordinary
height of thirty-seven thousand feet, or upwards of
seven miles, and that too in little more than an hour.

The escape of Glaisher and Coxwell from death at
that tremendous elevation, marvellous as it was con-
sidered at the time, is rendered more remarkable by
the fate which befell three Frenchmen who attempted
a similar ascent twelve years later. This is one of the
saddest episodes in the history of ballooning.

The French Society of Aerial Navigation organised
an ascent for the purpose of testing the restorative
powers of oxygen when breathed instead of ordinary
air in a rarefied atmosphere. Accordingly a new and
large balloon, named the Zenith, was built and inflated
at La Vilette gasworks in Paris. On a bright spring
_ day in April 1874 the ascent was made. In the car
were three gentlemen, M. Sivel, captain of the balloon,
and two scientists, Croci Spinelli and Gaston
Tissandier. The latter had joined the expedition for
the purpose of analysing the dust of the air, and had
brought with him a large reservoir of petroleum oil,
which was fastened to the car by cords, so that it
might easily be cut away if its great weight should
imperil the safety of the balloon.

All went well till they had reached an elevation of






































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































THE “ZENITH” SHOT UPWARD,



SEVEN MILES HIGH 87

about twenty-three thousand feet, when they experi-
enced some difficulty in breathing. This was, however,
soon remedied by inhaling the oxygen they had
brought with them. They felt greatly invigorated,
and after a brief discussion, it was decided to attempt
an even greater altitude. A quantity of ballast was
thrown over, and the Zenith shot upward.

Soon afterwards Tissandier fainted and remained
unconscious for upwards of an hour, till he was
awakened by one of his companions, who warned him
that the balloon was descending. In a mechanical
sort of way, like one in a dream, Tissandier threw
over some ballast. Hardly had he done so than he
sank back exhausted and fell asleep.

A momentary panic seems at this point to have
prostrated the wits of his companions, who madly cut
away the reservoir, which weighed about eighty
pounds. Thus lightened, the balloon rushed upwards
at a fearful speed, and as it travelled, unconsciousness
overcame those in the car.

An hour later, Tissandier again roused himself.
The Zenith was descending rapidly, and there was no
more ballast left to break the force of the terrific
plunge. Turning to his companions for help, a
horrible sight met his gaze. They were lying in the
bottom of the car, black in the face and with blood
88 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

oozing from their mouths. ‘They had been suffocated,
and were both dead.

‘The rapidity with which the balloon dropped
through space gave no time for thought, and the fate
which had befallen his friends numbed his action.
Soon he would be like them——dead—dashed to pieces.
It was a terrible position; but with the resource
which often comes to men in moments of the direst
peril, Tissandier saw a way of escape, and prepared to
avail himself of it. With the utmost coolness he cut
away the grapnel rope just as the car was about to
strike the ground. The balloon rose for a moment,
and was swept along by the force of the wind. He
tore open the silk to check its mad flight. It was at
last caught in a hedge at Ciron, a commune of Indre,
a hundred and ninety miles from Paris. The survivor
was found by some people in the neighbourhood, who
nursed him with every care till he was sufficiently
recovered to return home.

There are no records of the height that was reached
on this occasion; but it must have been very great.
CHAPTER X.
A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE,

HE Géant was the name appropriately




given to an immense balloon which
was constructed in Paris in the year
1863. It was made entirely of silk,
and was upwards of a hundred and twenty feet in
height. Underneath the globe was a smaller balloon
called the compensator, which was intended to prevent
loss of gas during the voyage. The car was perhaps
the most wonderful part of this gigantic machine.
In shape it was not unlike a small cottage. It had
two storeys, thirteen feet long by eight feet high,
with berths like a ship, and plentifully stocked with
provisions.

The first ascent took place in Paris on the 4th of
October 1863, under the management of an aeronaut
named M. Nadar. The excursions of the Géant made

a great commotion. They were indeed almost as
89
go STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

sensational as the original Montgolfier and Charles
ascents, and an immense crowd assembled to witness
the departure of the balloon with its crew of thirteen
persons, each of whom carried a passport in nearly all
the languages of Europe. i

The ascent was slow and gradual at first, as if the
giant machine was feeling its way to the clouds.
Then it rapidly descended, and it was not till several
bags of ballast had been thrown out that the Géant
took its flight to the upper air amid the cheers of the
spectators. Paris was passed over at the height of
about six hundred feet; but the voyage for which
the most elaborate preparations had been made, and
which was to bring about a new order of things in
the science of ballooning, ended at Meaux, distant
about thirty miles from Paris.

About a fortnight later a second attempt was made
to prove the Géant worthy of the expectations to
which its construction had given rise. On _ this
occasion the balloon was carried in a north-easterly
direction, and was last seen by the inhabitants of
Paris making for the Belgian frontier. Soon after-
wards the sun set in purple majesty, and the aeronauts ~
from the roof of their osier house looked down in
admiration through the clear night air on the wonder-
ful panorama that was unfolded to their view
A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE gi

Over cities, fires, forges, tall chimneys; and coal







THE ‘“‘GhANT.”

mines they were carried in safety. Occasionally there
came loud shouting from below as the balloon became
92 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

clearly visible. Once, in passing over a small town,
someone in the excitement of the moment fired a gun,
and for a while the aeronauts were spellbound with
terror, not knowing if the gun was loaded, or if the
ball might pierce the globe; but nothing of the kind
happened. Brilliant, gaslit Brussels was quickly
left behind, and then the balloon entered a region
of silence and darkness. So on through the night
the voyage was continued. All was silent in and
around the car, save when Nadar woke the echoes of
the slumbering earth with “titanic shouts” from a
speaking-trum pet worthy of his balloon.

At dawn all was going well, and the aeronauts had
a magnificent view of the sunrise. “Suddenly, as
with a burst of joy, a flash of light darts through the
azure vault. It is the signal, re-echoed from the
most distant horizons, of the ushering in of day in all
its splendours.” But the voyage, so fortunately begun
and so successful up to this point, was nearing a tragic
termination.

Away on the edge of the horizon, a white streak, as
of fog, was seen, which Nadar at once declared was
the sea.

A sudden and unaccountable panic took possession
of the voyagers, in spite of the reassuring words of
their captain that there was no danger. Someone
A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE oy

‘pulled open the valve. What followed was not a
descent; but a fall. Down went the balloon like a
stone. There was no time to speak, and no one had
sufficient presence of mind to act in this awful,
sudden emergency. The ground was within thirty
yards of them, and appeared to be rushing to meet
them with lightning rapidity. There were still twenty
sacks of ballast in the car, sufficient, had they been
thrown overboard, to arrest this headlong plunge to
earth, and give the aeronauts time to choose a suitable
landing-place ; but they remained undisturbed, while
each and all sought the only possible safety in cling-
ing to the ropes of the balloon.

Fortunately, the wind blew with such terrific
violence near the ground that their fall was broken,
and instead of crashing to the earth, the balloon was
carried along a short distance. “Hold on! hold on!”
was the cry, as with a thundering shock the car
collided with a mound. Many were forced to let go
their hold, and were thrown on their heads. The
balloon rebounded with an immense spring. The
platform of the car was now a scene of confusion and
fear, as everyone rushed to his place again and held
on with the determined grip of despair.

‘Houses and fields flew past with a rapidity which
almost rendered them unnoticeable. Another shock
94 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

caused the Géant to rock and tremble. The rope of
the anchor, which had been. thrown out in the vain
hope of arresting their progress, was snapped by the
force of the collision as if it had been made of pack-
thread. Onward they flew with redoubled speed
before the fury of an ever-increasing gale.

The shocks were now so frequent that it was
impossible to count them, and at each shock the car
rebounded: like an indiarubber ball, sometimes to a
height of fifty feet. The terror-stricken crew had
crowded ‘by this time to one side of the car, and
as this happened to be the side which struck the
ground, their sufferings and dangers were increased
tenfold.

“By the least negligence or slip, or by the loss of
presence of mind for one moment, we should have
been thrown out and dashed toatoms. Every collision
tries our muscles and strains our wrists or our
shoulders, and every rebound dashes us one against
the other, constituting each individual a tormentor
and victim at the same time. Our flight is so rapid
that we can only distinguish an occasional glimpse of
anything. What a dizzy whirl! what a succession of .
breathless shocks! Far in the distance, we dis-
tinguish an isolated tree. We approach it like

lightning, and we break it as if it were a straw.


THE WRECK OF THE ‘' GANT,”



A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE 97

Two terrified horses, with manes and tails erect,
endeavour. to fly from us; but we consume distances,
and leave them behind immediately.”

But a still greater danger was at hand. The path
of their flight was next crossed by a railway embank-
ment, along which a train was slowly travelling.
Benumbed with fear, the aeronauts clung to their
posts awaiting the catastrophe. ‘They knew well
enough that one of two things must happen—either
they would be crushed by the locomotive, or the
balloon would in its hurricane speed overturn the
train. A few yards more and all will be decided.
So they thought; but they had reckoned without the
engine-driver. He, too, comprehended the danger,
and, after quickly bringing the train to a standstill,
backed just in time to allow the flying monster to
sweep past.

“Look out for the wires,’ cried the man, and. those
in the car instantly lowered their heads in obedience
to the well-timed warning. No one was hurt, but
several of the ropes were cut. Still the Géant kept
on her headlong course, trailing after her, lke the
tail of a comet, the telegraph wires and the poles by
which they had lately been supported.

At length the car became entangled in a wood near

Rethem in Hanover, the adventurers were thrown
7
98 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

out, and several of them had their limbs broken.
‘The blind King of Hanover treated the unfortunate
aeronauts with great hospitality, and entertained
them until they had sufficiently recovered to return
to Paris,
CHAPTER XI.
TWIXT SEA AND SKY

O Jules Durnof belongs the proud dis-




tinction of having been. the first man
to show the way out of Paris in a
balloon, when the French capital was
‘besieged by the Germans in 1870. As a French
writer says: “An aeronautical Curtius was wanted,
who would throw himself head-foremost into the gulf
of the clouds, and Durnof did not hesitate to brave
the fire of the Prussians with an old balloon leaking
ai every seam.”

He had been one of the crew of the Géant, and in
that terrible trip he had learned the lesson invaluable
to aeronauts, never to despair, a lesson which in
subsequent years stood him in good stead on more
than one perilous occasion. With the means now at
his disposal, he knew that his only hope of safety lay

in the force with which he started, so he launched
99
i00 -STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

his balloon, “like a projectile which issues from a
monster mortar.” He carried with him a number of
despatches for the authorities at Tours, then the seat
of government.

His ascent did not escape the eyes of the watchful
Prussians, who greeted his appearance over their lines
with a rolling fire of musketry, and followed the
course of the balloon in hot pursuit, expecting that
it would be brought down. It was no light task to
keep the leaky globe afloat, and Durnof’s utmost skill
and attention were called into action; but in spite of
this he enlivened the terrible situation with a display
truly Parisian. Having sacrificed a large quantity of
ballast, and so risen beyond the range of the enemy’s
fire, he threw cartes de visite down on the heads of the
Prussians, who, infuriated at his escape no less than
his contemptuous treatment of them, directed a salvo
of artillery against the vanishing balloon. Fortunately
the daring aeronaut was out of range, and he eventually
landed in safety nineteen miles away.

Towards the end of July 1873, Durnof made one
of the most sensational ascents ever accomplished.
He had arranged to start from Calais, with the
intention of making the passage of the Channel from
France to England, His wife was to accompany him.

When everything was in readiness, the weather was
_?TWIXT SEA AND SKY 101

unfavourable, and the authorities refused to sanction
his departure. The Mayor, however, had not the
courage of his convictions, and delayed making the
decision of the council known to the people. They
naturally thought that the blame rested with Durnof,
and in their disappointment several persons loudly
accused the aeronaut of being afraid. The man who
had opened the aérial route from Paris needed not
to pay any heed to these grumblings; but at once
his courage was on fire, and, obtaining possession of
the balloon, he set out before the authorities had
‘time to prevent him, taking his wife with him.
Night came, terribly dark and stormy, as the
adventurous voyagers vanished over the sea.

When the story of the ascent became known
throughout Europe, it was received with mingled
feelings of horror and admiration,—horror that so
brave a man should have been driven to so desperate
a deed; admiration for the heroic rashness which
prompted him to risk two lives that the charge of
fear and failure might never appear against his name.
No less heroic is the trustful simplicity of his wife,
who, in face of the peril, calmly accompanied her
husband, confident of his coolness and energy. .

Three days passed, during which the utmost
anxiety prevailed. All hoped, but none expected
roz2 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

ever to hear of the adventurous couple again. At |
length the miraculous news was flashed along the
wire that Durnof and his wife were safe.

Their escape was indeed marvellous. When they
ascended, they were carried by the wind out across
the North Sea: Towards nightfall Durnof attempted
to attract the attention of some passing vessels, but
without success. The violence of the wind was by
this time greatly increased, and the position of the
aeronauts became more and more hazardous. The
balloon had a strong downward tendency, and there
seemed to them no escape from a watery grave.

At length the Great Charter, a fishing smack from
Grimsby, hove in sight. Durnof signalled frantically
for help, and the Englishmen at once shaped the
course of their boat towards the balloon. What
happened after this cannot be better described than
in the aeronaut's own words.

“The sea was very rough indeed. I opened the
valve and descended until the ropes were trailing in
the water, and in an instant we were past the vessel.
The crew of the smack, however, launched their boat,
and two men rowed it towards us. It was then six
o'clock, and, seeing the goodwill of the fishermen to
come to help us, I resolved to stop the speed of the
balloon, by springing the valve until the car filled
*"TWIXT SEA AND SKY 103

with water, and thus give more resistance to the
speed of the balloon. When I turned round, however,
I could not see the vessel. From time to time
tremendous waves broke over the balloon, covering
us with water. We were drenched to the skin, and
I was in constant fear lest the balloon should burst,
in which case we should assuredly have been lost.
“At seven o'clock we again sighted the smack on
the herizon, and saw that she was pursuing us, and by
degrees we noticed that she came closer to us. The
cold was most intense, and our limbs were gradually
becoming powerless. Our strength failed fast, and
the hope of being overtaken by the smack alone gave
our arms nerve to hold on. My wife’s limbs were
benumbed, and at each succeeding jerk of the balloon
she became weaker and weaker, and I had to support
her entire weight in my arms. The smack continued
to approach us, and was now only about six hundred
yards off. I pointed this out to my wife, and it
renewed her courage. I raised myself on the ropes
and saluted our rescuers. They saw us and launched
their boat, manned by William Oxley and James
Bascombe, the inaster and mate of the smack. They
came nearer to the car and took hold of the rope.”
Then followed a scene of which every Briton may

well feel proud, rich as our country is in memories of
to4. STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

heroic deeds of life-saving. The gallant Grimsby
fishers seized hold of a rope, thus fixing themselves to
the balloon, which dragged them through the water at
a furious pace.

“Their boat was nearly sinking,’ says Durnof, “ on
account of the strong jerks of the balloon; but they
did not lose courage, and, taking hold of my wife’s
hand, who was like a corpse, dragged her as best they
could into their boat. I was dashed against the side,
and I let myself fall into it, where I lay on the floor,
as helpless as my wife. The men let go the ropes of
the car, and the balloon rushed off with a mighty
speed towards Norway.”

The exhausted aeronaut and his unconscious wife
were taken on board the smack and conveyed to
Grimsby in safety. They were received in London
with the greatest enthusiasm, and a benefit féte was
organised at the Crystal Palace, in which they took
‘part, so little had their perilous adventure affected
their courage. When they returned to France, the
people of Calais collected a handsome sum of money,
which Durnof spent in the construction of a large
balloon, to which he gave the name of Ville de Calais
in honour of the town.

In this balloon Durnof ascended at Cherbourg on
the 21st of August 1876. He had profited greatly
*TWIXT SEA AND SKY 105

by his former experience, and to prevent accident he
ordered four steamers to cruise about in the offing.
He also attached large cork floats to the car, and a huge
cone hung suspended from a long rope, so that, should

‘he come down in the water, the drifting would not be
attended by the same dangers as in the North Sea.

' The wind was in a north-easterly direction and
carried the balloon rapidly towards the Strait.
Hoping to reach a current which would bear him to
land again, Durnof threw out quantities of ballast, and
rose to an elevation of fourteen thousand feet. The
breeze was still seaward, so he determined to make a
descent in the water. His appliances worked admir-
ably. When the Ville de Calais approached the
waves, Durnof threw out the cone, which instantly
diminished the speed, so that the crew of the steamer,
which came up in a few minutes, had no difficulty in
securing the balloon and towing it into port. Strange
to say, a repetition of this experiment on the following
day ended in. the total wreck of the Ville de Calais.

A few years ago-a French aeronaut named Gaston
Besancon made an ascent from Havre,accompanied by
two friends, in a balloon called the Jupiter. It was
struck almost at once by a gale which carried’ it
straight over the broadest part of the Channel. They

disappeared from view, and for a week nothing was
106 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

heard of them and they. were given up for lost. They
were, however, by what seems a special providence,
saved, and the story of their adventure rivals the perils
endured by Durnof and his wife.

When Besancon saw what course the balloon was
taking, he opened the valve. When it neared the
surface, he threw out a weight which he hoped would
serve as a floating anchor, and by the aid of which,
by paying out or taking in rope, the Jupiter might be
kept at a safe distance from the waves. This plan was
excellent, and had often been successful, but on this
occasion the gale was so strong, and the plunging of -
the air-ship so violent, that the stout rope snapped
like thread and the anchor was lost.

Like a restive steed the balloon plunged hither and
thither, nearly upsetting the car at each bound, while
the aeronauts clung in silent terror to the edge, in
momentary expectation of being thrown out. They
gave up all thought of managing their craft, and it
quickly sank to the water. Everything in the car
was at once cast overboard, but without success. Then
they divested themselves of the greater part of their
clothing, and the balloon slowly rose. But the respite
was brief, and in the meantime their sufferings from
cold were extreme.

Night came on. The Jupiter again descended
*TWIXT SEA AND SKY 107

The aeronauts heard the voices of fishermen in their
boats, and shouted to attract their attention, but in
vain. They were hurried out of hearing, and an
awful silence, broken only by the noise of the waves,
settled upon them. Throughout the long dreary night
they were buffeted about. They were almost dead
with cold, exposure, and fatigue. They abandoned all
hope and gave themselves up for lost.

Day dawned. Suddenly they saw a vessel before
them. They shouted, and made what signals they
could. Eagerly they waited, and in a few minutes
they saw with unspeakable joy a boat put off from
the steamer. No ordinary skill and bravery were
required to pilot the boat in such a sea, and the utmost
caution was required in getting alongside the tossing
balloon. At the risk of their lives the sailors seized
a rope and dragged the Frenchmen out of the very
jaws of death. The aeronauts were taken on board
the steamer, where they received every possible kind-
ness and attention. When they had sufficiently
recovered, they learned that the ship was the Germania,
manned by German sailors—they had been rescued
by their national enemies. .

The balloon afterwards descended in England, having
made a voyage to the clouds, where the car had become
weighted with snow and ice.

2
CHAPTER XII,
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND,

ANLEY SPENCER, the head of the
well-known firm of balloon - makers,

is an aeronaut of great daring and



experience. He has made altogether
two thousand balloon ascents, and nearly a thousand
parachute descents. Nor have his adventures been
confined to England. He has braved the dangers of
the air in the Cape, America, France, and other
Continental countries.

He carries on his wrist an ugly scar, which he
received many years ago in Havana under rather
curious circumstances. He was to make a parachute
descent from a hot-air balloon. Such a machine has
neither car, ballast, nor netting, and had therefore to
be held down by a small army of men till everything
was ready for the start. The place from which the

ascent had to be made was badly chosen, being
108
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND 109

shut in by houses and surrounded with telegraph
wires.

Hardly had Spencer started than a boisterous wind
caught the balloon, and bore it down on one of the
poles used in hoisting, which ripped a great hole in
the side. Thinking, however, that he had still time
to reach the necessary elevation before the hot air
was expended, he continued on his way. About fifty
feet from the ground he was swept against the
telegraph wires, one of which caught his wrist, in-
flicting the scar of which we have spoken, while others
broke across his chest. He held on like‘grim death,
and after a few more tugs he got free and ascended
with a long piece of wire hanging to the balloon.

Much precious time had meanwhile been lost, and
the hot air had escaped in such quantities that it was
impossible for him to reach the height necessary for
a safe descent by parachute. The wound in his
wrist, too, bled freely, and he began to feel faint. He
clung to the balloon, and after a time it took a
downward course, landing him eventually in the back-
yard of a house among a brood of chickens. When
he was found, he:-was so overcome with weakness that
he could hardly speak. The authorities were of course
summoned, and Spencer was carried to the military

hospital, where his wrist was sewn up.
110 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

When he came out of the hospital, a great crowd
of Spaniards was waiting to receive him, in total
ignorance that an accident had happened, or that a
parachute descent had taken place. So great was
their admiration for what they regarded as a feat of
unparalleled daring, that they took the horses out of
his carriage and dragged him through the streets in
triumph, till the police came to the rescue of the
bewildered ‘aeronaut.

There is nothing of which an aeronaut has a greater
dread than to be carried out to sea, but Spencer has
encountered this adventure on several occasions. On
one occasion he ascended from Prince Edward Island
on a beautiful calm day. All went well till he
reached an elevation of three thousand feet, when the
wind shifted, and carried him out over the water.
Fortunately he had taken the precaution of putting
on a lifebelt, so that. when he left the car with his
parachute he felt little apprehension.

Down he went into the water like a stone. When
he came to the surface, his first thought was for his
parachute. It was floating near, like a huge jelly-
fish. He at once seized it, determined to save it if
possible. Those on shore lost no time in sending a
boat to his aid; but nearly an hour elapsed before it
reached him, During this time he was frequently
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND T11

under water, for as the parachute got wet, it dragged
him down, and it was only by the greatest exertion
that he was able to keep himself and his “ jelly-fish ”
afloat.

A few years ago, Spencer had another “salt water
experience.’ This time he ascended from Sunderland.
The day was bright and calm, in fact, an ideal day for
an aérial trip. The balloon rose quickly to an eleva-
tion of five thousand feet, the utmost height from
which a safe descent can be made by parachute. Just
as he was preparing to cast loose, a strong upper
current swept the balloon seawards. Quickly he
threw out every ounce of ballast in the hope of chang-
ing his direction, and in a few minutes the balloon
mounted fifteen hundred feet.

Looking over the edge of the car, Spencer saw the
sea below him shining in the strong sunlight like a
silver mirror, From the distance it was impossible
for him to choose his landing-place or to know whether
or not he would alight in the water.

“The chances looked decidedly in favour of my
taking an involuntary bath,’ he said afterwards, “but
I decided to let go. As it happened, I landed on the
beach within a few yards of the surf, and escaped with
nothing more serious than a spray shower-bath.”

-On another occasion at Halifax, Nova Scotia, he
112 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

was less fortunate. On falling into the sea, his limbs

became entangled in the cords of the parachute, so that
he was practically powerless to keep afloat. Just
when he was giving up all hope, he was seen and
rescued by a passing fishing-smack:

At Bristol in the autumn of 1894, Spencer had his
ost exciting adventure, and one from which it is a
marvel he escaped with his life. The day was alto-
gether unsuitable for the aeronaut. Heavy rain fell,
and the wind was boisterous, with now and then a
heavy squall. Being unwilling to disappoint those
who had come to see him, he determined to risk an
ascent. When only a few hundred feet from the
ground, the balloon was struck by a heavy squall, and
before he really knew what had happened, he found
himself falling rapidly.

He was too near the ground to make use of the
parachute, so there was no way of escape. For one
moment he saw a sea of white upturned faces ap-
parently rushing towards him, the next, he went crash-
ing through the roof of a house, and through the
ceiling of a room in which two old ladies were sitting.
Here his descent stopped. He was picked up un-
conscious and carried to a hospital. Ineredible as it
may seem, no bones were broken, and beyond a few

euts and bruises he was none the worse.
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND 113

Three days later he ascended under more favourable
conditions, and accomplished the descent in safety.

An exciting scene took place at a Foresters’ féte
near Cardiff early in 1890. Among the attractions
was a parachute descent by a lady aeronaut named
Ada Macdonald. A hot-air balloon was used for the
ascent, and the apparatus used was complicated and
clumsy. She had a thick strap round her waist, and
to it were attached the thin white cords of the para-
chute, which was in its turn attached to the bottom of
the balloon.

When all was ready, the order to let go was given,
and the balloon shot upwards; but the men who were
holding the small wicker chair in which the girl sat,
let go too. soon. The consequence was that the cord-
age between the chair and the parachute straightened
with a violent jerk, and to the horror of the spectators
the aeronaut was thrown out of the chair, and hung
suspended by the belt.

The balloon ascended with great velocity, and all
the while the girl was seen helplessly struggling in
the air, entangled among the cords of the parachute.
At a height of about three thousand feet, the parachute
passed under her, and almost at the same moment she
broke loose from the balloon. For a few seconds her

descent was headlong, and then, as if by a miracle, the
8
114 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

parachute opened, and stayed her fall. Coming down
gracefully, she landed in a field, and, beyond the nervous
shock, none the worse for her startling adventure.

An aeronaut named Higgins, who came forward as
the rival of Baldwin, the daring American parachutist,
had a singular experience on one of his trips from
Croydon, on the 12th of April 1890. The balloon
had no car, and the aeronaut sat on a small trapeze
suspended from the netting. On reaching a height
of four thousand feet, the balloon got into a strong
current, and twisted right round. The wind then
caught the parachute, causing the wooden ring to
grip him tightly under the arms. While he was
trying to put matters right again, the test cord broke,
and the parachute hung down below him fully inflated.
The pressure on his limbs was so great that he had
the utmost difficulty in retaining his seat, and a
descent was impossible. He therefore opened his
penknife with his teeth, and cut the cords of the
parachute.

This caused the balloon to shoot six thousand feet
higher, and on reaching that altitude he was en-
countered by another current, which brought with it
sleet and snow. He never for a moment lost his self-
possession, and during his strange voyage was able to

take note of the merest detail of his surroundings,
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND | Il5

The storm lasted for about ten minutes, and during
that time Higgins was in total darkness, and the only
sound which reached his ears was the rumbling of
trains. When he passed through this snow-cloud, the
sun was shining brightly. Below him, as far as the
eye could reach, he saw what appeared to be snow-
clad mountains. So clear was the atmosphere that
he could see a distance of forty miles, and was able
to discern the sun glistening on the sea at Brighton.
Presently the air became very keen, and on his
moustache long icicles formed, which he no sooner
rubbed off than others took their places. For a few
minutes he was quite deaf. He thought he was
nearing Hastings or Brighton, for the salt smell of the
sea reached him. The balloon then took a downward
course, and to accelerate the descent he seized the
guy rope, and pulled the balloon partly over on one
side to allow some gas to escape by the mouth.
Sitting on his trapeze, Higgins kept an eager watch
for the earth. At length he saw the welcome sight
of some ploughed fields. The balloon travelled very
rapidly in a southerly direction for about six miles,
and then slowly descended. When he was about two
thousand feet from the earth, he let himself hang by
one arm from his trapeze rope, as if he were using
his parachute. His feet touched the ground. The
116 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

balloon, which was in front of him, dragged him for
several yards, and then rebounded sixty feet into the
air between two trees. His perilous position was
seen by some labourers, who ran to his assistance, and
when he came to earth the second time, they seized the
balloon and held it till the aeronaut let out the gas.

He landed on a farm at Penshurst, near Tunbridge,
with hands, feet, and legs benumbed; but highly
pleased with his remarkable escapade.

At the festival of the London Sunday School Choir,
which was held at the Crystal Palace in 1892, one of
the chief features of the entertainment wag a balloon
ascent by Captain Dale, a well-known and skilful
aeronaut. About six o’clock on the evening of the
29th of June, the balloon was inflated, and the captain
entered the car, accompanied by three companions.

_The order to let .go was given, and the balloon rose
quickly, travelling with the wind in a southerly
direction.

In a few minutes an altitude of six hundred feet
had been reached. The crowds of spectators in the
grounds were eagerly following the course of the
balloon, when all in an instant they were horrified to
see it collapse. A large rent appeared in the side,
through which the gas escaped almost in volume.
The balloon dropped like a stone,
DROPS FROM CLOUDLAND 117

The aeronauts could be distinctly seen struggling
against the fearful fate which awaited them. Ballast,
bags, ropes, everything indeed which was likely to
lighten the car was thrown out, madly, vainly. Some
idea of their desperation may be formed from the fact
that they wrenched the buttons from their clothing in
their frantic endeavours to lessen the speed of their
descent. These were afterwards found among the
débris. Down came the balloon, and landed with a
sickening thud on the grass near the lower lake.

Willing helpers were quickly on the scene. Every-
one expected to find that the four occupants of the
car had been dashed to pieces. All were alive, but
fearfully injured. Captain Dale only lived a few
minutes. The others were taken to the hospital.
Nine days later, another death was added, that of
Cecil Shadbolt, one of the secretaries of the Western
Kent Sunday School Union.
CHAPTER XIII.
TRAGIC ADVENTURES.

\OTWITHSTANDING the host of dangers
which attend the aérial traveller from




the moment he enters the car till the
time he leaves it, the number of
casualties in the navigation of the air has been less in
proportion than in the navigation of the sea. Taking
fifteen hundred aeronauts and ten thousand ascents,
only about fifteen lives have been lost. ©

There are, however, many tragic adventures on
record. In the early part of the century an English-
man named Knight made a number of successful
ascents from Bombay. One day, when the wind was
blowing strongly from the land, an Indian prince
came forward and offered him a large sum of money
if he would make an ascent. Knight looked seaward,
and without hesitation accepted the offer, for on the

horizon he saw a numerous fleet of native, boats. He
118
TRAGIC ADVENTURES 11g

ascended, and was driven out to sea. On nearing the
boats, he opened the valve and called to the men to
come to his assistance; but when the Indians saw the
monstrous apparition descending from the skies, they
were filled with terror, and made all sail to get beyond
the reach of. the “superhuman monster.” Left to his
fate, the aeronaut was soon engulfed in the waves.

Madame Blanchard, the wife of the pioneer-voyager
across the Channel, was as famous an aeronaut as her
husband. She was a veritable queen of the air, and
used to ascend in a car so small and fragile that it
was likened to a child’s cradle. On the 7th of July
1819 she made an illuminated ascent from the
Tivoli Gardens. When at a. great height, a quantity
of escaping gas caught light from the fireworks, and
in an instant the balloon was in flames. The people
below, seeing the blaze, and ignorant of what had
happened, rent the air with shouts of “Brava!
Vive Madame Blanchard!” thinking that they were
witnessing a new sensation.

Their shouts reached the ears of the aeronaut, who
with splendid nerve was trying might and main to
extinguish the fire; but the flames had obtained the
mastery. The balloon descended, and she threw out
her ballast to moderate her fall. Driven back by the
increase of pressure, the gas re-entered the balloon
120 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

and was extinguished. She would yet be saved.
But the pitiless wind blew her on to the roof of a
house. At the moment of the shock she was heard
to cry “ A moi!” (Help). These were her last words.
In gliding along the roof, the car caught in a piece of
iron and was overturned. The brave lady was taken.
unawares, and before she could seize hold of a rope,
_ she was precipitated to the street below, where she
breathed her last.

The mistake of some French peasants led to the
death of Lieutenant Gale in 1850. He made an
equestrian ascent from Bordeaux, and descended in
safety; but he failed to make the peasants who came
to his assistance understand what he wanted them to
do, and as soon as the horse was detached, the balloon
flew upwards at a great speed. On the following
day it was found, caught in the branches of a tree,
but it was not till a week later that the horrible fate
of the aeronaut was ascertained. He was found in
a wood, his body having become the prey of wolves.

In 1865 a young aeronaut named Chambers fell a
victim to inexperience and want of care. He ascended
from Nottingham, and neglected to open the upper
valve to allow the gas to escape, which consequently
forced its way out by the neck. Feeling that he was
being overcome by the fumes, Chambers twisted the
TRAGIC ADVENTURES 12%

valve line round his wrist and pulled. Then he
became unconscious. The balloon dropped to the
earth with a crash, and the unfortunate aeronaut
was picked up dead.

Captain Donaldson, an, American aeronaut, made an
ascent from Chicago in August 1875. The wind
was so violent that at first it was found impossible to
inflate the balloon. So determined was he, however,
that he caused a row of lofty poles to be erected,
across which stout sheets were stretched to break the
force of the gale. When at length the globe was
filled, two journalists entered the car, and the order
was given to let go. The balloon rose, but was
immediately dashed to the ground. One of the
passengers profited by this accident to drop from the
car and leave his companions to their fate. Relieved
of his weight the balloon disappeared like an arrow
in the direction of Lake Michigan.

A few hours later, the captain of a small Swedish
schooner bdund for Chicago saw the balloon approach-
ing the water, and made all sail to the rescue. So
fierce was the hurricane that the little vessel was
soon alongside. The crew were about to lay hold of
the netting and drag Donaldson and his companion
aboard, when, with a supernatural suddenness, the

balloon bounded from them, and was quickly lost to
122 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

view. Three weeks later the bodies of the luckless
adventurers were cast ashore by the waves.

Another aérial traveller who lost his life under
similar circumstances was Walter Powell, who started
from Bath on the 10th of December 1881, accom-
panied by two friends. When they had drifted toa
point near Bridport in Dorset, they attempted to
descend within half a mile of the sea. The balloon
struck the ground with such violence that his two
companions were thrown out of the car, and before
he could provide for his own safety, he was carried
out to sea. A number of vessels went in pursuit, but
returned without having obtained a sight of the
balloon. The coasts of France and Spain were
carefully searched; but no trace was ever found of
the missing balloon or its occupant. Doubtless he
was drowned in the depths of the Channel.

In June 1885 an aeronaut named Williams was.
killed at Charleston, West Virginia, under circum-
stances which ordinary courage and presence of mind
could easily have prevented. He was in the car
preparing to ascend when the balloon swayed against
a furnace and was set on fire. The men who were
holding the ropes became panic-stricken and fled.
Williams had no chance of escape, and sat in the
car calmly awaiting death, The burning balloon
TRAGIC ADVENTURES © 123

rose a thousand feet into the air and then
collapsed.

A honeymoon trip in the Alps had recently a
disastrous ending. Captain Charbonnet, an aeronaut
well known throughout Italy, presented his bride with
a new balloon as a wedding gift, and in September
1893 the couple started from Turin, and descended
at Piobesi, where they were received by the inhabitants
with great enthusiasm.

On the following day, accompanied by a friend
named Ponta, they made a fresh ascent, with the ©
intention of passing the Alps and descending on
French territory. All went well till they neared the
Caramella Peaks, when the balloon was caught in a
hurricane, and dashed with great violence against a
glacier and made a total wreck. Strange to say, the
travellers escaped with but trifling injuries. They
spent the first night amid the snow and ice, obtaining
what shelter they could under the remains of the
balloon.

When day dawned, they decided to attempt the
descent of the mountain, although the weather was
very misty and bitterly cold. Charbonnet led the
way. The party had not proceeded far when he
suddenly disappeared in a crevasse. The whole of
the day the survivors wandered about, dreading lest
-124 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

ay

every step should precipitate them into some un-
fathomable abyss. Towards evening Ponta also fell
and sustained serious injuries. Madame Charbonnet
passed the second night in snow, watching by the
side of her wounded companion, suffering terribly
from cold and almost benumbed by grief.

In the morning Ponta was unable to move, so the
brave lady set off alone to look for assistance. Again
and. again’ on that terrible journey she was on the
point of giving up in despair, and would gladly have
welcomed the sleep which meant death; but the
thought that another life depended on her energy
nerved her to go forward. At length, in a state of
complete exhaustion, she reached a mountaineer’s hut,
where she told her sad story. A number of men at
once set out to the rescue, and carried Ponta down to

the hut, where he quickly recovered from his injuries,

“and with the widowed bride returned to Turin.

Captain Charbonnet’s body was afterwards found,
fearfully mangled. 7
M. Boiteux, one of the survivors of the ballooning
fatality which took place in France in August 1896,
gives a thrilling account of the ascent. He says—
“When we had risen five hundred yards or so, we
found ourselves in such thick clouds that.we could

‘distinguish nothing. Suddenly the balloon lay on one


















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































‘*WE FOUND OURSELVES IN



THICK CLOUDS.”



TRAGIC ADVENTURES 127

side, and the car leaped terribly. At the same time
we were lashed by large hailstones and heavy rain.
We were driven forward with bewildering speed. In
our fright we threw over everything that our hands
came across. The balloon sprang upward like an
arrow, and soon passed through the clouds. We were
under a clear sky, in the light of the setting sun.

“ Gradually it grew colder and colder, and our wet
clothes were frozen stiff. One of my companions fell
fainting to the bottom of the car, and the other three
of us were not much better off. We were all bleeding,
for the hail had wounded us. As I looked, I saw a
large black cloud moving from south-west to north-
east. But we still rose. Then I saw nothing more.
The blood streamed from my nose and ears. My
hands were frozen hard as a board.

“In a few minutes we had risen to a height of
nearly five thousand yards. Then we began to sink,
at first slowly, then rapidly. All at once we were
again in complete darkness. We were in the midst
of thunderclouds. Again, amid hail and rain, the wind
drove the balloon on at a speed of ninety miles an
hour. We were blinded by the hail, and could scarcely
breathe. But I did not lose hope of reaching the
earth in safety. i

“Presently the hail and rain began to be mixed
128 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

with leaves and particles of earth, The car was
violently shaken, and we fell against each other, and
had to hold.on to the ropes. Then we began to drag
along the ground. The balloon suddenly rose. I let
my rope go, and was dashed to the ground. Legrand,
one of my companions, believed that I had voluntarily
jumped out. He jumped out after me, and fell near
me with a broken leg.

“Thus lightened of weight, the balloon rose more
rapidly. Rushing through the tree-tops, it went on
about six miles in the direction of Gretz. As it hung
on the top of a tree, Foucard tried to land, caught a
rope, but was thrown violently to the earth, A
woman saw the balloon hanging in the trees, and sent
the people at her inn to the rescue. Foucard was
- found covered with mud and ice, his face all torn.
He still breathed. When his head was raised, with
the intention of giving him stimulants, he was seized
with a convulsion and soon expired. As he was
carried away, a weak voice was heard calling from
the car for help. Two ladders were brought and
tied together, and a gendarme climbed up to assist
Crepillon. It took an hour to get him down. On
reaching the ground, he fainted away. He was cold
as ice, and only regained his senses after continued

friction.”
CHAPTER XIV.
WHICH WAY DOES THE WIND BLOW 2

N the 5th of March 1882, Colonel Brine
of the Royal Engineers, accompanied by

Joseph Simmons, a professional aeronaut,



set out from Canterbury to cross the
English Channel. The most elaborate preparations
were made to secure the success of the voyage.
Meteorological observations were taken for several
days, and it was arranged that a start should be made
_ as soon as favourable reports were received. arly
on the morning of the day named, a telegram was
“received, stating that the wind at Dover and Cape
Gris Nez was moderate from the north, and likely to
draw north-westwards.

The conditions being so far favourable, it was
decided to start at once. The gas was turned on at
half-past eight, and in two hours the balloon was fully
inflated; but delays occurred, and it was not until

9
130 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

half-past eleven that the order to “let go” was given.
The adventurers took with them a quantity of
provisions, and a life-saving apparatus in case of
accident in mid-Channel.

Thousands of persons had assembled to witness the
departure, and as the balloon rose slowly into the air,
it was followed by loud cheers and hearty wishes for
a successful voyage. Gradually the balloon reached
an altitude of sixteen hundred feet, and the first three
miles were traversed in six minutes. Shortly after-
wards, however, the wind fell and the balloon rapidly
descended over a field, so low indeed that the
aeronauts heard some boys say, “They are coming
down in our field.” The discharge of a quantity of
ballast enabled them to rise four hundred feet; but a
few minutes later, a further sacrifice of ballast was
found necessary to maintain this height.

As they approached the sea, they noticed that the
ships in the Channel seemed as if they were sailing
in air and not on the water. About half-past twelve,
when the balloon was between Folkestone and Dover,
the sun described a perfect photograph of the balloon
and car on a cloud which surrounded them. The
effect was most remarkable, and struck the voyagers
with a feeling akin to awe.

Readers of Jules Verne may remember his account
WHICH WAY DOES THE WIND BLOW? 131:

of a similar optical illusion—“the effect of a mirage,”
which created alarm in one of the occupants of the
balloon, whose five weeks’ journey among the clouds
is so graphically told by the famous author.

“We could see our own reflections,” says Simmons,
“and every detail, even to the untying of a knot,
which I happened to be doing at the time. It was a
perfect portrait. There was, at this moment, a lovely
rainbow surrounding the-car—not the balloon—about
ten feet in diameter, and the beauty of the whole
scene was strikingly grand.”

It was nearly one o’clock before the balloon passed
over Shakespeare Cliff and floated out over the
Channel. “It was a magnificent sight to see the
slight surf on the coast line backed by the green sea,
while over behind us stood the snowy chalk cliffs.”
Wishing to go higher, ten pounds of ballast were
thrown out, and the balloon reached an elevation of
nineteen hundred feet. The current here was bearing -
directly for the coast of France; but the wind
suddenly changed to a south-easterly direction. The
aeronauts therefore descended a few hundred feet in
the hope of finding a favourable breeze ; but in spite
of all their manceuvring they were unable to effect
their object, ahd swung about at the mercy of the
gusts, which blew first south-east and then south-west.
(32 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

A slight mist came on, and the colonel gave it as
his opinion that they were drifting rapidly towards
the North Sea. Simmons, who saw that it was
impossible to reach Calais, but did not want to admit
failure without another attempt to reach a favouring
current, did not reply. Soon, however, even he was
forced to admit that the colonel was right.

On taking a turn downward, the Calais mail-boat
was sighted, and from the direction of the smoke from
the funnels, the aeronauts saw that a steady south-
westerly breeze was blowing. This caused them to
take prompt action, and they put on their cork jackets.
There was not a moment to be lost if the packet was
to pick them up, so the valve was opened, and the
balloon descended, striking the water with great
violence, about half-past two. They were at this time
about thirteen miles from Dover and eight from
Calais.

The following account by Captain Jutelet of the
mail steamer graphically describes what happened.
He says—

“ As we were on our voyage from Calais to Dover,
we saw the balloon bearing north-north-west of us.
The balloon was about five hundred yards up, and we
hoisted our flags to salute the aeronauts. We cheered
them several times as we passed under them. Im-
WHICH WAY DOES THE WIND BLOW? 133

mediately after this we saw them drop something,
but I did not know what it was then. I afterwards
learned that it was an anchor, and was intended as a
signal to us to stop.

“ After we had passed the balloon some little
distance, I saw it dropping, and I then bethought
myself that they wanted our assistance. I told the
men to get ready one of the lifeboats. I also altered
the course, and went back after the balloon, which
had by this time struck the water. We were about
twelve minutes before we overtook them, as the
balloon was dragging the car through the water at the
rate of about two miles an hour. When we got
alongside, I called out—

“*Do you want any assistance ?’

“«Tower your boat and pick us up, shouted
Simmons in reply.

“At this time the balloon was quite upright, and
had not lost a great quantity of gas. Simmons was
very nervous lest our paddle-wheel should come in
contact with the car, so I lowered a boat and picked
up the two aeronauts, at the same time dragging the
balloon on board the vessel at the bow.

“JT had sixty-eight passengers on board, and I
found it necessary to take great precautions with the
balloon, on account of the large quantity of gas ib
134. STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

contained. Simmons was afraid of anyone going
near it in case they should be choked. I was afraid
lest a spark might send us all to the bottom. I
altered our course in the hope of driving the gas out,
but that did no good, and it was not until I made
two slits in the silk, and so allowed the gas to escape,
that we were able to continue the passage.”

The captain also said that when the aeronauts were
rescued, they were drifting rapidly towards the North
Sea, and when the rescuing boat got alongside, they
were sitting up to their knees in water.

After a delay of twenty-five minutes, the voyage to
Dover was resumed, at which port the adventurers
were received with hearty cheers and congratulated
on the plucky fight they had made against adverse
circumstances.

Delays are proverbially dangerous, and to the delay
occasioned at the start, the failure of the attempt was
in no small measure due. Was it possible to accom-
plish the voyage ? was now the great question, or was

- the wind always blowing from the coast of France ?
CHAPTER XV.
BURNABY'S TRAVELS IN THE AIR,

ORTLY after the unsuccessful attempt
to cross the Channel related in the
previous chapter, Colonel Burnaby,



the famous Guardsman, determined to
prove that such a voyage could be undertaken and
accomplished. From Wright, the aeronaut of the
’ Crystal Palace, he obtained a suitable balloon, which
he had conveyed down to Dover, where he arranged
with the manager of the gasworks for the inflation.
The news of the colonel’s venture quickly became
public, and he was inundated with offers from people
in all parts of the country who wished to accompany
him; but their company was declined. Burnaby had
firmly made up his mind to go alone, and he rightly
judged that on this depended the success of his -
expedition; even when he made this fact known,

_ offers still came in,—the aeronaut who had provided
135
136 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

the balloon being the most pressing—but nothing
could shake Burnaby’s determination.

At length all arrangements were completed, and
the aeronaut arranged to start on the first suitable
opportunity. He had not long to wait, for in a few
days the wind blew strongly from the north. Quickly
the balloon was inflated, and Burnaby stepped into
the car. His outfit consisted merely of a few scientific
instruments and a rug, while his provisions were
limited to a few sandwiches and a bottle of mineral
water. A few minutes before ten the colonel gave the
order to “let go,” and the balloon rose slowly in a sea-
ward direction. At the very outset of his voyage he
was threatened with disaster. Right in his path wasa
tall chimney, towards which the balloon sailed with
unerring precision. Ballast was precious, and he was
' unwilling to throw away a single ounce; he therefore
waited until the last minute, in the hope that the
wind might carry him over or past the obstruction,
but-there was no chance, so over went a small bag.
The balloon rose, and the car just cleared the chimney.

It was an ideal morning for the attempt. The
wind was steady and the sky bright. As he sailed’
over the blue waters of the Channel, the daring
acronaut had time to look back on the “dear white

cliffs of Dover” surmounted by the ancient ‘castle,
BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR” 137

while at the foot lay the old-fashioned town and the
busy port. Behind were green fields and hedges,
























































































































































































































































COLONEL BURNABY STARTING ON HIS TRIP.

which formed a striking background to a picture
which he noted with the eye of a soldier, and appreci-

ated with that of an artist.
138 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

For rather more than half the distance, the voyage
was rapid and. uneventful. The French coast now
‘came in sight, and the aeronaut recognised that he
was opposite Boulogne. Up to this time the sun had
been bright, but the sky became cloudy, and the
balloon began to descend rapidly. The barometer
registered nine hundred feet. A quantity of ballast
was thrown out, but without checking the downward
course. . Bag followed bag in quick succession, and
it was not until the car was within four hundred feet
of the waves that the balloon took an upward
flight.

The ascent was continued till a height of fifteen
hundred feet had been reached. Then the aeronaut
had time to look about him and take his bearings.
To his surprise, the coast of France, which but a short
time before had been clearly seen, was lost to view.
While he had been busy with the ballast, the wind
had veered round almost due east, and swept him
away from the shores which he had almost reached.

In a short time another change in the weather set
in. The balioon hung motionless in the air, the sea
was like a sheet of glass. In the water below him
were two fishing-boats, the crews of which offered to
help him if he came down. He took no notice of
their signs, beyond throwing down a copy of the
BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR 139

Times, which fell straight into the water as if it had
been a stone.

For an hour the balloon remained in this position.
Then it suddenly dropped, and, as before, was not
checked till within five hundred feet from the water.
The fishermen, came nearer and renewed their offer
with no better result, so, after waiting for some time
longer, they waved their caps and rowed away.

Their disappearance was a great relief to Burnaby’s
mind. He had set out with the firm resolve that no
action on his part should interfere with the success of
the voyage, and he found the near presence of help a
strong temptation to give up his self-imposed task
and descend in safety.

The balloon was still stationary. The day was
wearing late, and unless he could find some means of
reaching the other side in reasonable time, the gas
would become exhausted, and his trip would end as
previous attempts had done—in the water. He sat
down to consider his position, and in defiance’ of one
of the most stringent precepts of aeronautics, he lit a
cigar. All the lower air currents, he had found by
experience, were dead against him. His only chance
was therefore to ascend, in the hope of encountering
a stream which would carry him to France. There
were five bags of ballast left, and these, he
140 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

judged to be sufficient to enable him to carry out his
plan.

Overboard went bag number one, and fell into the
sea with a loud splash. The balloon rose to three
thousand feet. Another bag followed ; but the sound
of its striking the water did not reach the aeronaut’s
ears, so quickly was he ascending. At an altitude of
seven thousand feet, a third bag was thrown out.
This had the desired effect. Rapidly the balloon shot
up to ten thousand feet, and entered into a current
which carried it swiftly towards France. The cold
was now intense, and a dense cloud enveloped the car
for some time. When he emerged, however, Burnaby °
was overjoyed to see in front of him the harbour of
Dieppe—he had crossed the Channel.

The object of his journey was accomplished, and he
prepared to descend, when it occurred to him that he
might possibly encounter an adverse current which
would carry him out to sea again. He therefore
continued his journey overland. So overjoyed was he
at his success that he did not pay strict attention to
the country over which he was travelling, with the
consequence that, before he was aware of it, he was in
a hilly district. Ue could not throw out ballast in
time to avert a collision, and hung on with might and
main to the car. There was a tremendous jerk, his
BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR 141

rug and thermometer were thrown out, and the
balloon rebounded a hundred feet into the air.

Presently a ploughed field suggested a suitable
landing-place, and he let go his grapnel. The anchor
held for a moment and then broke loose; all the time
the balloon jumped about in a most alarming fashion.
Firmly grasping the hoop with one hand, and with
the other tugging at the valve line, Burnaby waited
the end. At last the anchor caught in a bank and
held fast.

A crowd of people who had followed him quickly
came to his assistance. Men and women alike were
in a state of great excitement. Never before had a
balloon descended in that part of Normandy, and
they were highly gratified with the honour. They
vied with one another in assisting “Monsieur” to
pack up his balloon, and then the farmer on whose
land he had alighted took him to his house, where he
was most hospitably entertained.

_ On the following morning, when Burnaby was
leaving, his host. took him to one side and made him

' promise that if he ever came again by balloon to that
neighbourhood he would be his guest, a promise
which the colonel laughingly made.

When the news of this successful attempt reached
England, it created considerable surprise, for few had
142 STORIES ‘OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

thought. that Burnaby knew enough about ballooning
to achieve such a result. To the majority he was a
dashing cavalry man and an intrepid traveller, fond
of danger and adventure, and when he started they
thought he was only seeking a fresh excitement; but
the colonel was really an experienced aeronaut, and a
member of the Aeronautical Society.

His first balloon adventure, which happened in
1864, is typical of the man as we knew him. One
evening he was strolling about one of the public
gardens in London with a number of brother officers,
It was in the days before the Montgolfier had been
banished, and the French aeronaut Godard had
arranged to make an ascent on the following evening.
As they were discussing it, another officer came up,
accompanied by Godard, who was introduced to
Burnaby as “the man who is going up to-morrow.”

“That will be capital fun,” replied Burnaby.

“Fun, do you call it?” said the other, “when a
man runs the risk not only of getting his neck
broken if anything goes wrong, but of being
roasted to death as well. I should like to see you
do it.”

This was a direct challenge, and Burnaby promptly
accepted it. He spoke to Godard, and in a few
minutes everything was arranged. The aeronaut
BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR 143

agreed to take him if he paid £5 and promised to
help in keeping up the fire.

On the following evening Burnaby hurried to the
gardens, where he met numbers of. his friends who
had come to witness the performance. Leaving them
to enjoy their laugh at his expense, he went towards
the balloon, which was suspended from a rope between
two poles. As he looked at the crazy machine in
which he was about to risk his life, he wished he had
not been so rash. :

The car was of wood, and measured about nine feet
across. In the centre was a large iron grating, from
which a chimney extended several feet into the
balloon. ‘There was no netting, the car being simply
fastened to cords stitched in the cloth. Trusses of
straw with which to feed the furnace hung round.
Burnaby’s misgivings were in no way lessened when
Godard and his assistant started the fire. The flames
roared up the chimney into the balloon, and sparks
flew in all directions.

Burnaby, however, was determined to go through
. with the matter, and when the balloon was fully dis-
tended, he went forward to take his place im the car.
But Godard refused to take him; he said there was
not enough ascending power, and that he would

willingly take him up another time. Burnaby retired
y /
144 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

and explained the situation to his friends, who laughed
and hinted that he was afraid. |

Godard gave the order “ Let go,” and the ponderous
ear rose slowly. It was about five feet from the
ground, when Burnaby suddenly sprang forward,
seized the edge of the car, and vaulted in. His weight
was too much for the balloon, which sank again to the
earth. More straw was piled on the furnace, and the
machine again rose; but in its ascent it came into
collision with one of the masts, which broke in two
like a pipe-stalk, They got clear of the grounds
without further accident, and sailed across the
Thames; but there was little wind, and at no time did
the Montgolfier rise more than eight hundred feet.

Greenwich Marshes was the spot chosen as the
landing- place. The balloon grounded on the shore
within a few yards of the river and then rebounded.
To the horror of the aeronauts, they saw the balloon
making straight for a stone embankment. We can
imagine the excitement of the aeronauts during the
next few minutes, when we remember that the fire
was still burning brightly, and the roar of the furnace
nearly drowned all other sounds. The primitive
way in which the car was attached added another
element of danger. Crash went the balloon against
the stones; but by careful management the equilibrium
BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR | 145

of the car was preserved, and what threatened to be a
serious disaster was avoided. Shortly afterwards the
balloon was brought to a standstill, and the party
alighted in safety.

After this Burnaby made a number of ascents from
time to time, and as a member of the Aeronautical
Society he took an active interest in the practical
scientific aspect of ballooning. This led on one
occasion to a very strange adventure, which, however,
is not without its amusing side.

A Frenchman came forward with a balloon shaped
in the form of a gigantic bladder pointed at both ends.
In the car machinery was fitted which, when set in
motion, could be used to steer the balloon. The
machinery consisted of two large wheels which, on
being turned, caused two sets of large fans to revolve.
These were fixed over the car, and could be set at any
angle, to suit the direction in which the aeronaut
wished to travel.

The inventor made arrangements to exhibit his
machine and give a practical demonstration of its
working powers. Anxious to investigate the matter
fully, Burnaby arranged to accompany him. ‘The
balloon was inflated, the inventor and his assistant
and the captain took their seats in the car; but there

was no ascent. Then the Frenchman called out,
10
146 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

“Now I will show you the great advantage of my |
invention. I will take ballast out until five pounds
more taken away would cause the balloon to rise. We
will then work the wheels, the screw fans will revolve.
As they revolve we shall leave the earth.”

Burnaby’s interest had now reached the pitch of
curiosity, and he worked with his utmost strength at
the wheels; but the united efforts of the aeronauts were
in vain. Though the fans revolved at a tremendous
pace, the car did not budge an inch. The people who
had assembled to see this wonder laughed scornfully.
Becoming tired of this fatiguing and fruitless labour,
Burnaby took up a small bag of ballast which was
lying near and quietly dropped it over the side. The
balloon rose at once. The Frenchman thought the
ascent was due to his invention, and graciously bowed
his acknowledgments to the cheers of the crowd.

The wind blew the balloon towards the ‘Thames,
The day was cold, and the gas condensed rapidly, and
the balloon began to descend. Trusting in his inven-
tion, the Frenchman paid no heed, but worked away
at the wheels. The descent continued in spite of the
revolving fans. A moment more and they would be
in the water; but Burnaby, thinking that it would go
badly with them all to fall into the water surrounded
with ropes and netting, dropped a large bag of ballast
" BURNABY’S TRAVELS IN THE AIR 147

overboard. Again the balloon ascended. The French-
man’s face relaxed; but his triumph was short lived.
The splash of the bag as it touched the water told him
of the trick that had been played, and he was furiously
indignant. “Why,” he asked Burnaby, “did you not
trust to the fans? They lifted the balloon before, and
would have done so this time if they had had a chance.”
The captain kept his own secret, and nothing more was
said.

The balloon ascended rapidly to a height of three
thousand feet, when something caused the Frenchman
to look up, and instantly a look of horror came over
his face. Burnaby followed his gaze, and saw that in
the excitement of the start they had forgotten to untie
the neck of the balloon and so allow for the expan-
sion of the gas. Owing to the peculiar construction
of the globe, it was absolutely impossible to reach the
neck and undo the fastenings. There was therefore no
resource but to sit and wait until the pressure of the
atmosphere caused the balloon to burst.

They were ascending rapidly, and a few moments
must decide their fate. Suddenly a cracking sound
was heard, and the balloon dropped with frightful
velocity. Each man held his breath. With equal
suddenness the downward rush was stayed, and on
looking to see the cause, the aeronauts found that the
148 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

lower part of the balloon had been forced into the
upper part of .the netting, thus forming a kind of
parachute. They breathed freely again, and prepared
to land. In a few minutes they touched the earth
about three miles from where the accident had occurred ;
thankful to have escaped without injury.
CHAPTER XVI.
WITH ANDREE ACROSS THE BALTIC.

FEW years ago 8. A. Andrée, one of
the first engineers in Sweden, and
famous in/ this country for his attempt
to reach the North Pole by balloon,

made a remarkable flight over the Baltic Sea, a feat



never before accomplished. For several months he had
been engaged in making ascents solely for purposes of
scientific research, and on the 19th of October 1893 he
went up to verify some of his observations. Having
finished his work, he prepared to descend, when
suddenly, before he had time to open the ventilator,
the balloon began falling of itself at a terrific speed.
Down it went until it reached a white cloud, when it
stopped and sailed round like a swan on the water
for a few minutes, then it sank through the cloud.
Meanwhile Andrée had been too much occupied to
notice the direction in wich he was drifting, and the
150 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

cloud prevented him from forming any idea of his
whereabouts. When, however, he came through, he
was greatly astonished to find himself sailing out over
the Baltic. Certain death stared him in the face.
He had no hope of escape unless he could reach
Finland or meet with a vessel. It was indeed a
perilous position; but his presence of mind did not
for a moment forsake him.

“Soon I. saw,” he says, “through my glasses, a
steamer trying to cross the way the balloon would
take, and being straight in my course, it suddenly
stopped. This action on the part of the steamer was
simply madness, as the: sparks in the smoke-stacks
could easily light the gas in the balloon, amounting
to some 16,000 cubic feet, the explosion of which
without doubt would have killed many persons.
Happily the captain perceived the danger, and moved
his vessel round.” :

“Now it was my turn to try the best way of coming
down. I threw out the anchor, and the speed of- the
balloon was slackened ; but the steamer was still out
of hearing. Then I fastened two empty ballast sacks —
on my last rope, and threw them into the water.
The balloon nearly stopped. The steamer had by this
time put out all fires, and could not come nearer, so ©
that all hope of rescue by this means was at an end.”
ACROSS THE BALTIC 151

Andrée now saw that there was nothing for it but
to try to reach the coast of Finland. ‘He accordingly
tried to get the ropes up from the water; but when
he raised the first above the surface, the balloon sank
under the additional weight. He therefore cut away
the sand-bags, and the balloon was carried forward by
the wind at the rate of about fourteen miles an hour.

Shortly afterwards he sighted another ship which
offered him assistance; but the risk of descending
was too great, and he declined, and continued on his
perilous course. His previous experience had taught
him that if he tried to go down to the surface while ©
the vessel lay in his way, the balloon would have
rebounded from the water, and he should have been
thrown out and probably killed.

The force of the wind was now greatly increased,
and the balloon was speeding along at eighteen miles
an hour. It kept at a height of about eight hundred
feet above the surface, and although it often sank
down very near the water, the car was never once
dipped. To prevent. such a catastrophe Andrée cut
away the anchor, which he had been unable to raise.
It was a bold act, but a necessary one.

The wind began to blow still harder, and a little
rain fell; stronger and stronger blew the wind, and the

aeronaut began to prepare for the worst. He enclosed
152 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

his valuable observations in an air-tight tin, and gave
. Instructions where to send them if found, so that if
disaster happened, they might be saved, It was
getting dark when he passed over the first cliff on the
coast of Finland. Shortly afterwards the wind
changed, and instead of blowing him into the interior
of the country, it drove him along the coast.

“For ninety minutes I was standing on the edge of
the car with some ballast in my hands, ready to throw
it out in case of danger of collision with a cliff.
Suddenly I saw a sharp light. I supposed it was a
lighthouse ; but there appeared now two, then three
lights ; it was evidently a building. For one moment
I lost my presence of mind and failed to grapple the
rope to the ventilator and hang on to it with all my
powers. Now it was too late. JI had passed the
island, and the balloon came down into the water. I
was lying in the bottom of the car, and the water
rushed in with such force that I could not move. The
most of the way to the next island I was under water.

“But this could not continue. At length, -after
much turning and twisting, I succeeded in getting my
legs over the edge of the car, just when the balloon swept
over the next cliff. It was a wonder I escaped without
having them broken. I tried several different positions, —
but the car was so unsteady that I was never safe.

7.
ACROSS THE BALTIC 153

But I could not endure it much longer. I felt myself ~
so feeble that it would have been an impossibility for
me to try and hold the balloon. I had only one course
now to pursue—to save my life. Passing over the
next cliff, I jumped down. The balloon shot up in
the air and disappeared.

“Twas saved; but, alas! in what condition and for
how longa time. I had hurt my leg in falling and
could not stand, so I crept round the cliff in search of
shelter; but none was to be found. It was now
between seven and eight o'clock. For a couple of
hours I shouted aloud, in the hope that it would be
heard by some passing boat; but the raging storm
took away the sound of my voice.

“JT then turned my attention to making myself
as comfortable as possible for the night, though the
prospects were anything but pleasant. J was wet
through, my fur cap had blown away, and I had
nothing to put on my head. This’ made me
specially anxious, because my only chance of being
rescued was to keep my head clear. I made a cap of
some handkerchiefs and lay down on the cold ground,
hungry and shivering, trying to keep up my courage
if not my temperature. So passed the long night.

“ At length day dawned. I was now able to stand,
and with my glasses, which I had fortunately round
154 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

my neck, I saw in the distance the island over which.

‘I had passed the night before. In order to draw
attention to my position, I took off my trousers and
waved them in the air. Shortly afterwards I was
glad to see a boat sail out from the island and steer
straight for the place where I lay.

“T soon saw they had not set out in response to my
signal, for the men never once looked in the direction
of the cliff, and the boat passed me. I shouted my-
self hoarse; but in vain. I began to look about to see
if I could make a raft out of the few trees there were ;
but as I had neither axe nor knife, I was obliged to
give up the idea.

“When I returned to my sleeping-place, I found a
boat close by. A man on the island had seen a big

‘square boat with an enormous sail come sailing from
the sea with a terrific sweep, and go flying over the
ground, and again disappear in the sea! This was my
balloon, or rather his description of it, for the islanders
had never seen anything of the kind before.

“His curiosity was aroused, and early in the
morning he went down to the beach with his glasses
to see if he could find out what the strange apparition
could have been. He then saw my signals and put off
at once to the rescue. I was quickly taken over to
his home and well cared for.”


















































DEPARTURE OF THE ‘‘ EAGLE.”
155

ACROSS THE BALTIC Egy

The balloon was afterwards recovered on another
island some miles away, little the worse for the
extraordinary voyage it had made. The value of this
ascension from a scientific point of view was very
great, and the courage of Engineer Andrée, no less
than his scientific qualifications, entitle him to rank
among the famous aeronauts of modern times.

It is, however, in connection with his daring scheme
to reach the North Pole by balloon, that Andrée’s
name will be ever remembered. Impossible as it
seemed to carry such a plan to a successful issue, the
courageous aeronaut found many supporters among
his own countrymen, who came forward with liberal
funds for equipping the proposed expedition, A
balloon was accordingly constructed named the Eagle,
capable of carrying three persons, a supply of provisions
for four months, besides the necessary ballast and
scientific instruments, The car contained a dark room
for photography and a well-protected sleeping apart-
ment for the three travellers. The roof of the rooms
was boarded to form the floor of the upper storey,
which served as a sort of promenade deck.

Danskoe in Spitzbergen was chosen as the starting-
point, and thither accordingly the balloon was sent in
the spring of 1896. On the 23rd of July it was
inflated, and four days later everything was ready for
158 STORIES OF BALLOON ADVENTURE

launching. For two months Andrée and his two
companions, Eckholm and Strindberg, waited for a
~ favourable breeze; but in vain. The wind continued
contrary. Winter came on, and the expedition had to
be abandoned.

Undaunted by the failure of their first attempt,
however, the explorers determined to return in the
following spring. In the meantime Eckholm withdrew
from the. enterprise; but Andrée and Strindberg, who
had never lost heart, returned to Spitzbergen in the
summer of 1897 to wait for a favourable wind.

This time their perseverance was rewarded. A
brisk southerly breeze sprang up, and the balloon
sailed northward over the weird white Polar sea.
Thus the intrepid pair passed out of sight. A
message or two, one by carrier pigeon, came in due
course: then a long and ominous silence ensued, until,
late in 1909, a band of Eskimos reported having
found the balloon with the lifeless bodies of two men
in the cay.

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