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1786: Hot air Balloon Drama at Newcastle!

On Thursday, September 19, [1786] Mr. Lunardi, the aeronaut, proposed to ascend from Newcastle. During the process of inflation, Mr. Lunardi drew a plug from the funnel, to ascertain the force of the effervescence produced by the addition of some acid, when the noise caused by the emission of the gas alarmed some gentlemen who held the balloon, and who rushed from their stations. One side of the balloon being thus deserted, the neck where it joined the barrel was torn, and, notwithstanding Mr. Lunardi's exertions, the alarm became general, and the balloon was liberated. Unhappily, Mr. Ralph Heron had a rope, which was fastened to the top of the balloon, coiled round his hand and arm, by which he was carried up to an immense height with great velocity, when his weight having turned the balloon, and tore off the top and the netting, this accomplished young gentleman fell into a garden adjoining, amidst the groans and exclamations of thousands of spectators. In a few hours he expired, though he did not appear to have received any external contusion from the fall.

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Including the Borough of Gateshead. Mackenzie & Dent, Newcastle, 1827.


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