Montgolfier, Stephen James

, the inventor of air-balloons, was born at Aunonay, and was originally a paper-maker, and the first who made what is called vellumpaper. Whence he took the hint of the aerostatic balloons seems uncertain, but in 1782 he made his first experiment at Avignon, and after other trials, exhibited before the royal family on Sept. 19, 1783, a grand balloon, near sixty feet high and forty-three in diameter, which ascended with a cage containing a sheep, a cock, and a duck, and conveyed them through the air in safety to the distance of about 10,000 feet. This was followed by another machine of Montgolfier’s construction, with which a M. Pilatre de Rozier ascended. This daring adventurer lost his life afterwards along with his companion Romain, by the balloon catching fire, an event which did not prevent balloons from being introduced into this and other countries. After repeated trials, however, the utility of these expensive and hazardous machines seems doubtful, and for some years they have been of little use, except to fill the pockets of needy adventurers. Montgolfier was rewarded for the discovery by admission into the academy of sciences, the ribbon of St. Michael, and a pension. He died in 1799. 2


Dict. Hist. Rees’s Cyclopædia, art. Aerostation.