In 1863, the world's first aerial photographer launched the world's largest balloon. It didn't go so well.
Three times larger than a standard balloon, Nadar’s Géant featured a two-story gondola. Visitors flocked to see it on display at London’s Crystal Garden in 1863. Illustration: Albuquerque Balloon Museum.
In 1858, Félix Tournachon, better known by his professional name, “Nadar,” took a camera up in a tethered hot air balloon and became the first aerial photographer.
Five years later, he launched the world’s largest gas balloon, known as Le Géant (Giant). The 196-foot-tall balloon had required more than 300 seamstresses to assemble its 22,000 yards of silk, and at the time was the most elaborate aerial vehicle ever devised.
Donald Dale Jackson described Le Géant in his 1981 book The Aeronauts:
Animation of Nadar’s self-portrait. Photograph by Nadar; animation by OxlxO.
It was an airborne cottage. Made of wicker, two stories high with a balcony on its roof, it contained six compartments: two cabins, a printing room, a photographic office, a lavatory and a storeroom. The balloon made two ascents from Paris in October of 1863, attracting the largest crowds for any aeronautical event since the historic flight of Jacques Charles 80 ...