1785 - Conquering the Channel

A French balloonist, Jean Pierre Blanchard, and his American co -pilot, John Jefferies, became the first to fly across the English Channel. This flight marked a huge step forward in the capabilities of balloons, and people were already starting to think of the possibilities that long-distance ballooning might hold.

'How posterity will laugh at us, one way or other! If half a dozen break their necks, and balloonism is exploded, we shall be called fools for having imagined it could be brought to use: if it should be turned to account, we shall be ridiculed for having doubted.'
Horace Walpole, letter to Horace Mann, 24 June 1785