The first people to fly over the English Channel in a balloon were Jean-Pierre Blanchard and Dr John Jeffries on 7th January 1785. The Frenchman, Blanchard was the true pilot and a ballooning pioneer, but Jeffries, an American, was the sponsor and wanted to fly with him. On approaching the French coast, they were descending and needed to get rid of some weight. After they had used all of their ballast, they stripped off and threw their clothes overboard and landed wearing just their underwear. The flight lasted two and half hours from Dover to Guines near Calais. Neither of the pair could swim so it was lucky they landed safely on land!
The last cross Channel Balloon flight was with 75 balloons on April 7th 2011.
Look out for more details about Clive Bailey and Paul Spellward’s Gas Balloon flight in the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race in August from France!