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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 193576
Last updated: 27 October 2020
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Date:19-JUL-1786
Time:day
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
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Nature:Test
Departure airport:Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland
Destination airport:
Narrative:
What was supposed to be the 12th launch of Vincent Lunardi's balloon at Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne on 19 July 1786 ended in a casualty, when Lunardi spilled vitriol on the ground. Assistants restraining the already buoyant balloon, fled from the place which caused it to take off. One of them, Ralph Heron (aged about 22 years) the son of Mr. Heron, under-sheriff of Northumberland, had a rope twisted around his hand and could not disengage himself in time. He was drawn up in the air. Eventually, he fell to the ground and died a while later from internal injuries. According to a contemporary report:

"Newcastle upon Tyne, Sept. 20.

Lunardiís 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 having 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. Paulís 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 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.

Sources:

1. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincenzo_Lunardi
3. http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2009/10/balloon-now-rose-with-great-velocity.html
4. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/NORTHUMBRIA/2001-10/1001970403


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
13-Feb-2017 23:14 Dr.John Smith Added

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