Born Aloft

Born today actually, in 1745 was Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, brother of Joseph-Michael Montgolfier. The two pioneering scions of a paper-making magnate would go on to set a stake in History when they launched the first hot-air balloon with passengers aloft on September 19, 1783 carrying a sheep, a duck, and a rooster – and the first manned flight On October 15, 1783 with chemistry and physics teacher Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, and the second manned flight with Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier AND French military officer the Marquis d’Arlandes.

The U.S. Ambassador to France, scientist Benjamin Franklin was fascinated by the aeronautical exploits and wrote in his journal about witnessing the balloon ascent:

“We observed it lift off in the most majestic manner. When it reached around 250 feet in altitude, the intrepid voyagers lowered their hats to salute the spectators. We could not help feeling a certain mixture of awe and admiration.”

On January 19, 1784, in Lyons, France, a huge balloon built by the Montgolfiers carried seven passengers as high as 3,000 feet (914 meters).
Pilâtre de Rozier was killed on June 15, 1785, when his balloon, filled with a dangerous combination of hydrogen (combutstible!) and hot air, exploded during an attempt to fly across the English Channel.

As inventors the two brothers continued with their experiments and were honored by the French Académie des Sciences, for during their careers they published books on aeronautics, Joseph invented a calorimeter and the hydraulic ram, and Jacques developed a process for manufacturing vellum. Vive La France! etc.

Also born on this day in 1822 was Heinrich Schliemann, the German polyglot/archeologist who discovered the ancient ruins of Odysseus’ Troy, in what is today’s modern Turkey.

Grail-Grail, Puzzle-Pieces

When you start building a project, whether it’s a rifle or a vehicle, you need to begin with the propellant/power-plant unit in mind. I know everybody builds Fords and Chevys, but where I can find a 1918 Hispano-Suiza V-8?  – or maybe here? 300-something HP seems to be the goal for the motor, not sure about the weight… Some awesome Kiwis built a few.

After that a reproduction kit, or something. A few hundered hours spinning wrenches and slapping dope on silk, volia!
Since I live on a hill, when it’s done it will be relatively simple to get it push-started and off down to the airport below, no?
If I had a ranch in Texas and a Class III stamp (and a dozen Dillons set up for .303 British) the Lewis gun would be cool (and the synchronized Vickers too), and I could fly around with it and rat-a-tat to my hearts content.
With a few lights and some IR stuff it would be an awesome-bitchin’ night-fighter shootin’ wild hogs – as long as the exhaust and engine heat-plume didn’t make the IR bloom…
And of course it would be cool to have a ridin’/flyin’ buddy to join along. I know there’s a bunch of Aero-Gunny types out there besides Bridgid, like Murphy’s Law for instance…