The joy of the first flight

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

balloon_flight

Lately I’ve been researching the history of flight. I was particularly struck by this quote, by Jacques Alexandre César Charles, one of the first balloon fliers. This was also one of the the first manned flights above earth’s surface ever, as the balloon was the first craft capable of providing true lift (not the gliding action of manned kites).

Nothing can compare with the joy that filled me as I flew away from the surface of the earth. It was not a pleasure, it was blissful delight. . . . [A] majestic spectacle unfolded before our eyes. Wherever we turned our gaze, we saw the heads of people, above us a sky free from cloud and in the distance the most alluring view in the world.

I can only imagine what it must have felt like to see something that no one had ever seen before, except in dreams. I know how seeing the world from above feels to me, even after seeing it many, many times, but I can only imagine what a profound shift in consciousness it would be to be among the very first.

Those interested in the history of flight can find more info in this excellent book.

Photo: Melouw

July 9th, 2009

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