A colorful history from the National Air and Space Museum’s poster collections.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- AirSpaceMag.com, July 05, 2013
Long before the airplane, there were airshows. The very first one may have occurred in Paris on August 27, 1783, says Tom Crouch, a curator in the aeronautics department of the National Air and Space Museum. On that date, Jacques Alexandre-César Charles "flew the first small hydrogen balloon from the Champs de Mars, near the present site of the Eiffel Tower." Tickets were sold, and the public promptly went balloon-crazy. As many as 400,000 people—half the city's population—says Crouch, gathered to watch a hydrogen balloon ascend from the Jardin des Tuileries.
This 1886 poster publicizing a fair in the Square des Batignolles shows that 100 years later, balloons were still popular, but the public required a little something extra—in this case, a trapeze act performed by Louis Godard and Gabriel Yon.