Accident Vincent Lunardi Gas Balloon Unregistered, Tuesday 19 September 1786
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Date:Tuesday 19 September 1786
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Vincent Lunardi Gas Balloon
Owner/operator:Vincent Lunardi
Registration: Unregistered
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
On Thursday, September 19, 1786, Mr. Lunardi, the aeronaut, proposed to ascend from Newcastle. During the process of inflation, Mr. Lunardi drew a plug from the funnel to ascertain the force of the effervescence produced by the addition of some acid when the noise caused by the emission of the gas alarmed some gentlemen who held the balloon and who rushed from their stations. One side of the balloon being thus deserted, the neck where it joined the barrel was torn and, notwithstanding Mr. Lunardi’s exertions, the alarm became general and the balloon was liberated. Unhappily, Mr. Ralph Heron had a rope that was fastened to the top of the balloon coiled around his hand and arm by which he was carried up to an immense height with great velocity when his weight turned the balloon and tore off the top and netting. This accomplished young gentleman fell into a garden adjoining amidst the groans and exclamations of thousands of spectators. In a few hours he expired though he did not appear to have received any external contusion from the fall. According to a contemporary report:

"Newcastle upon Tyne, Sept. 20.

Lunardi’s attempt to ascend yesterday from the Spital ground was productive of a very melancholy accident. The balloon was about one-third full, and a great many gentlemen were holding it by the netting when Lunardi went to pour into the cistern the rest of the oil of vitriol destined for the purpose.

This had caused a strong effervescence, generated inflammable air [i.e., hydrogen] with such rapidity, that some of it escaped from two different parts, of the lower end of the apparatus, and spread among the feet of several gentlemen who were holding the balloon, and who were so alarmed, that leaving it at liberty, they ran from the spot.

The balloon now rose with great velocity, carrying up with it Mr. Ralph Heron, a gentleman of this town, about twenty-two years of age, son of Mr. Heron, Under-sheriff of Northumberland.

This unhappy victim held a strong rope which was fastened to the crown of the balloon, twisted about his hand, and could not disengage himself when the other gentlemen fled; he was of course elevated about the height of St. Paul’s cupola, when the balloon turned downward, the crown divided from it, and the unfortunate gentleman fell to the ground.

He did not expire immediately, having fallen upon the very soft ground; he spoke for some time to his unhappy parents, and to the surgeons who came to assist him; but his internal vessels being broken, he died about an hour and a half after the fall."

This incident appears to be the earliest recorded fatal aviation-related accident in the UK.


5. Total & Other Fatalities (From the same text explanation)

Revision history:

13-Feb-2017 23:14 Dr.John Smith Added
20-Apr-2022 06:47 PolandMoment Updated [Narrative]
28-Jul-2022 14:08 Dr. John Smith Updated [Category]
01-Jun-2023 05:45 Dr. John Smith Updated
03-Jun-2023 16:58 Dr. John Smith Updated

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