There has probably been no age or generation since the earth has been inhabited by man in which the art of flying has not been a subject of study and research, if not of experiment. The apparent ease and pleasure with which the birds travel through the atmosphere cannot but induce in the hearts of human beings an earnest desire to partake of this delectable recreation; and this desire induced in one of the ancient kings the exclamation, “ 0 that I had the wings of a dove,” etc. The employment of artificial wings was the subject of experiment by hundreds of people before the nature and properties of hydrogen gas were discovered. The ponderability and inertia of atmospheric air must have been manifest at the earliest periods, being especially indicated by the locomotion of the feathered part of creation; but to what extent the science or art of aerostation had progressed prior to the founding of the Grecian Empire, history has not informed us ; and even down to the sixteenth century there has been nothing recorded on the subject other than the most puerile and frivolous contrivances of wings, and the modes of operating them, by means of compound levers, springs, and cranks. About 300 years before the Christian era, a Roman named Archytas, constructed a machine that would rise and fly “ a considerable distance “ through the air, by means of wings operated by springs, but as neither drawings nor description are given by historians, we are left to conjecture its peculiar mechanism. But this brief item of history serves to show that flying was a desideratum in those days as well as in more modern times. In 1670, a man named Lana endeavored to produce an aerial float by pumping out the air from a delicately-made hollow metallic globe ; but he soon discovered that if his globe was made so thin that its weight would not exceed that of the volume of air which it was capable of containing, whatever might be its dimensions or size, the external atmospheric pressure was sure to crush and collapse it before the internal air was all drawn out. This method has recently been discussed by scientific men, but practically considered it is BO absurd as not to merit a moment's serious thought. Many experiments were made with light paper balloons (this word signifying globular, or pear-shaped bags) inflated 309 with heated smoke or rarefied air; but no person attempted an ascension until 1783. The peculiar properties of hydrogen gas, and the mode of producing it, were discovered in 1766, and many experiments were made with it on a small scale. But it was not then expected that it would ever be produced in sufficient quantity to inflate a large balloon. Light paper balloons were exhibited, and many curious fancy figures, representing eagles and other animals floating in the air; and small illuminated balloons were sent up at night, but most of these were made to ascend by means of hot air. In 1782, two brothers, Stephen and Joseph Montgolfier, after making many experiments on a small scale, attempted to i,nflate a large paper balloon with hydrogen gas, but failed on account of the escape of the gas through the pores of the unvarnished material. They then constructed a large paper balloon, seventy-four feet high and about fifty feet in diameter. This balloon had an opening at the bottom of fifteen feet in diameter. Around this opening was arranged and fastened a gallery of' wicker wOTk, three feet wide, and around the outer edge of this was a balustrade of the same material, three feet high. This gallery was for the purpose of holding the passengers, fuel, etc. At the center of the large bottom opening was a Wire grate, supported by wires, upon which the fire was made; and above the balustrade several port holes were made through the sides of the neck of the balloon for the purpose of feeding the fire with' straw from the gallery outside. With this balloon, M. Pililtre de Rozier made several ascents to the hight of two or three hundred feet, while it was fastened witli ropes of that length ; and on the first of November, he, in company with the Marquis d'Arlandis, decided to make an aerial voyage. Accordingly, the balloon was prepared, with an ample supply of straw in the gallery, and Arlandis and Rozier stationed on opposite sides of the gallery, trimmed the straw fire, and at a given signal, the balloon was released from its moorings, and left free in air at 6 minutes to 2, on November 1, 1783 ; so this was the beginning of aerial sailing ; it cannot properly be called navigation, as the voyagers had no control over the movements of the vessel. These adventurous balloonists sailed off gently for two or three miles till they came to a river, when the balloon turned up stream and descended nearly to the water ; but another bundle of straw upon the fire lifted them up very suddenly, and, catching another current, they proceeded three miles further, and came down safely in about an hour from the time of starting. after having had sundry small holes- burnt through the balloon by the sparks from the straw fire. Rozier was killed in company with Laine his companion fn an attempt to cross the channel from France to England in a hydrogen balloon in June, 1785. The balloon taking fire they were precipitated upon the rocks, thus becoming the first martyrs to the science of aerostation. Prior to the successful experiment of 1783, a balloon of moderate size had been inflated ,,-ith hydrogen gas, and, per mitted to ascend from Paris. It arose to a great hight, and continued in the air about an hour, in which time it traveled a distance of thirty miles. In December -of the same year, two gentlemen named Charles and Roberts, made an ascent from Paris, in a balloon inflated with hydrogen gas, and traveled nearly thirty miles. This balloon was constructed under the superintendence of M. Charles, and was a truly wonderful production forthat time. The balloon was nearly 100 feet in diameter, being made of varnished silk, and the upper part was covered with a net, from which a series of cords descended below the bott6m of the balloon, and supported a car made of basket work, eight feet long, four feet wide, and three feet deep. The top of the balloon was also furnished with an efficient valve, for regulating its descent. This balloon appears to have been equal in all respects, to any of modern construction, no noticeable improvement having been made in balloons during the eighty-six years that have elapsed since that date. From this time the attention of many inventors was turned © 1869 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INCto the subject of propelling balloons in any required direction ; and so various and numerous were the projects and devices, that to describe them would require volumes. One man arranged a series of balloons upon a horizontal platform or fiat boat, with broad horizontal wings at the sides, and an arrangement of sails at each end. Another arranged a series of balloons vertically, one above another, with various projecting arms and halliards for changing their relative positions. Many different plans were projected, in which horizontal planes were employed capable of being inclined for the purpose of producing horizontal progress by the inclination of the planes in one direction while the balloon was ascending, and in the opposite direction when the balloon 1"as descending; the balloon being made to ascend and descend by alternately discharging the gas and the sand ballast. The most rational and sensible plans projected, were those in which broad wings were employed in the manner of oars ; the wings being thirty feet long, and the blade part about six feet wide; in rowing with them the blade was feathered, or brought to a horizontal position, w ile being moved forward. The most ridiculous projects were those—and they were many and diverse—in which sails and rudders were employed, or at least, appended to the balloons. It is difficult to understand how people of any intelligence could have overlooked the fact that when when the entire apparatus was floating passively with the air current, neither sails nor rudders could be affected thereby, or exert any influence on the course of the balloon. But many persisted in experiments; and especially aftell' the introduction of steam-power, several complicated and expensive plans, more ingenious than judicious, were introduced for the purpose of aerial traveling; and many plans were projected for flying by means of wings, without the aid of hydrogen. Capt.J. Morey, of Fairlee,Vt., invented a winged machine that would fly by the force of a coiled spring. After ascertaining that no steam arrangement. could be made' to furnish sufcient pftwel' to support the weight of a steam-—ler, -he invented a very- ingenious and scientific engine, in the operation of which, atmospheric air was expelled from It light metallic cylinder, by the explosion of the vapor of alcohol and spirits of turpentine combined, and mixed with about seven times its volume of common air; atmospheric pressure from without being employed to furnish the required power. Petroleum and gasoline were not then known, otherwise this invention! might have succeeded better. As it was, he succeeded ill! propelling a boat with good speed, and wits at one time offered S^.OOQ by a Philadelphia Co. for the right of his invention, but with the materials which he had, he could not produce the- explosions with sufficient rapidity, or perfect a vacuum quick enough to operate the wings of a flying machine, Prior to this, the effect of oblique revolving fans was discovered, and many were employed in aerial experiments. M Landelle invented a very expensive apparatus., consisting of a light boat about fifty feet long, with two tall masts or poles, upon each of which were mounted four horizontal fan wheels. similar to modern four-bladed propeller wheels, but much larger and lighter; and these were to be revolved in contrary directions by steam power, for the purpose of elevating the machine with its contents, and holding them suspended in the air, while other similar propelling wh.,els were adjusted at the stem, working vertically for the purpose of propelling the ship forward. Th's craft was furnished with rudders for steering, and a large horizontal wing, thirty by twenty feet, attached to each mde of the hull, for the purpose of steadying it, and regulating its position. Below the hull, suspended by cords from each. wing, was a boat-shaped car, which, with its contents, served as ballast. to keep the ship in an upright position. The steam engine was situated in the ceater of the main boat. The two ru iders—one at each end— were judiciously formed and arranged, being very long, and each consisting of four broad leaves, two vertical and two horizontal, with a long stem in the center. Such, at least, was the project; but the voyages accomplii!hed, or experiments made with this aerial ship, are not found in history. On the 7th of Januuary, 1785, a famous areonaut by name of Blanchard, accompanied by Dr. Jeff.rier, an American gentleman, started in a balloon from the cliffs of Dover, England, for the purpose of sailing over sea to Calais, France. The balloon was well inflated with hydrogen, and furnished with what appeared to be an ample supply of ballast. They rose majestically, with a favorable bree?le; but when they had proceeded nearly half way, they came into a vein of rarefied and chilly air, that refused to support the balloon, and they began to descend towards the middle of the channel. They threw out th>ir ba last gradually until it was all exhausted, and then commenced throwing over all their bottles and pooks, next their grapples a^ cords, and lastly a portion of their clothing. But ha ving ftearly reached the French coast, the balloon began to ascend again, and rose to a considerable :j:tight, so that they, passed over the highlands, and, by letting put a portion of gas, they landed near the forest of Guiennes. In consideration of thi.s aerial feat, the King of France presented M, Bl^qchard with 12,OQO livers, as a token of appreciation of lIis skill and perseverance. Bnt the phenomenon of the sudden descent of the balloon, has never been satisfactorily explained. ,{,he balloon being wafted by, !\Cnd moving in unison with the breeze, mqst have been surrounded by the same air, at the time of its descending tendency, that,.it was at the commencement of the voyaga, It might have been the effect of electricity, which is known to move altogether- independent of aerial currents, and whioh might have suddenly rarefied the air in the vicinity of the balloon, depriving it of its ordinary buoyant power; or in some inexplicable manner a ve'"ticl\l downward current, diffusing itself upon the sur face of the ocoou. might have overcome the buoyancy of the j palloon. Professor John 'Wise, of Lancaster, Pa., and several other popular aeronauts, have promulgated the theory that a balloonist might travel to any part of the world, by taking advantage of the various air currents at different altitudes of the atmosphere. And many announcements have been made by different aspirants for fame, of intended aerial voyages to Europe. These have been published and reiterated, and set times appointed for starting. But the uncertainties of the weather, or of finding congenial currents to waft them to the desired landing place; the difficulty of replenishing the balloon with gas by the way; the difficulty of ascertaining the direction and speed of the balloon, in a dark, cloudy night, and many other difficulties, appear to have deterred the bold aeronauts from attempting the voyage. To thus expose their lives to imminent dangers would have been worse than useless, when, even if suooessful, there was not the least possible prospect of anything useful being derived from the hazardous precedent. In fact, the apparent danger must have been of serious magnitude, to have discouraged Professor Wise, who has been the most daring high-flyer the world has ever produced. Upon one occasion he was bold enough to ascend to a hight of thirteen thousand feet, and there burst his balloon to demonstrate the truth of a favorite theory. He made his ascent from Easton, Pa., in the midst of a terrific thunder-storm, and rose to the hight of two miles and a quarter. and while the storm flashed and raged furiously a mile below him, he deliberately burst his balloon, thus permitting tfie gas to escape, and consequently he began to descend rapidly untitthe rush of air caused the lower part of the balloon to cave into the upper hemisphere, thus forming a ll'arnmoth parachute, whereby he was lowered down safely to terra firma, though in the midst of wind and rain. On several subsequent occasions he successfully repeated the experiment, minus the thunder and rain.