Early Boston aeronauts used balloons to perform scientific experiments, cross the English channel, take the first aerial photographs, and provide public entertainment. Whether by hot air or hydrogen, these pioneers made their way into the air, and into the history books.
Aeronauts and Balloon Ascents
- A modern crew attempts to recreate Bostonian John Jeffries’ maiden voyage across the English Channel.
- John Quincy Adams records the difficulties Jeffries encountered.
- Blanchard’s first flight in the US.
- An almost certainly fake account of a balloon ascent in Boston in 1790.
- The first balloon ascent in Boston leads to the first aviation lawsuit in Massachusetts.
- A newspaper account of Charles Durant’s first ascent from Boston in 1834.
- Irish actor Tyrone Power describes an ascent by Durant.
- Durant’s memorable final flight from Boston on September 13, 1834.
- The oldest surviving aerial photo is taken of Boston in 1860. It’s now in the collection of the Met.
- Google Earth tips its hat to that 1860 photo.
- Just for fun, here are a few pictures from the time your hosts went soaring in New Hampshire, including the Boston skyline from somewhere near Salem, NH.
This Week in Boston History
- September 18, 1679: By order of King Charles II, New Hampshire is split off from Massachusetts.
- September 19, 1777: Alexander Hamilton provides a warning that allows John Adams to escape from the advancing British.
- September 20, 1797: With much fanfare, Bostonians gather to watch the launch of the USS Constitution. But it gets stuck.
- September 21, 1657: Two Quakers are publicly flogged in Boston.
- September 22, 1681: An enslaved woman named Mariah is burned at the stake in Boston. Learn more in Episode 27.
- September 23, 1815: The Great September Gale damages many buildings in Boston and causes havoc with the trees on Boston Common.
- September 24, 1776: The inhabitants along the St John’s River in New Brunswick petition to be allowed to join Massachusetts.