First published in 1966 as "The Aeronauts: A History of Ballooning 1783-1903", this book is a complete history of balloons and the intrepid men who flew in them. Beginning in 1783, the year in which balloons first took flight, it ends in 1903, the year in which the Wright Brothers first heavier-than-air flight at Kittyhawk changed the history of aviation for ever. The exploits of balloonists attracted the attention and admiration of the masses like nothing before: within weeks of the first flights, its form featured in designs of wallpaper and fabrics, in jewels and on snuff boxes, and as balloon clocks and chandeliers. The aeronauts themselves became heroes of their time. From the first flight, by the Montgolfier brothers in a balloon of paper and cloth, through the first Channel crossing by air, showman aeronauts, female aeronauts, efforts to cross the Atlantic and the use of balloons in war, this is a wholly fascinating and riveting book. Lightly and entertainingly written, it includes lively extracts from journals and contemporary accounts, as well as engravings of the period. This new edition has a foreword by one of the foremost aeronauts of today, Don Cameron.
L.T.C. Rolt wrote biographies on the great British engineers, such as Brunel and the Stephensons, as well as the story of his exploration of England’s canals, Narrow Boat and his 3-volume autobiography, The Landscape Trilogy. He died in 1974.