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Did you know? The first hot-air balloon ascent from English soil took place from the Artillery Garden of The HAC

Tuesday, March 19, 2024 - 14:00

Italian hot-air balloonist Vincent (or Vincenzo) Lunardi, the secretary to the ambassador of Naples, took off from the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company (The HAC) on 15 September 1784 and made the first manned, free-floating balloon ascent from English soil. His historic journey had an audience of over 150,000 people, including distinguished guests like the Prince of Wales.

Image copyright: © HAC Archives

Lunardi’s hydrogen-filled balloon soared over several Hertfordshire towns and he took with him a cat, a dog and a caged pigeon, the cat later being released after an emergency touch down at North Mymms when it became unwell. Lunardi’s pioneering flight of 24 miles was one of several at this time which paved the way for future aerial adventures and captured the imagination of the public!

Unique Venues of London is delighted to welcome The HAC to their association and look forward to learning even more interesting facts about this fascinating venue.