FARCOT, Eugène. ~ La Navigation atmosphérique. Paris: Librairie Nouvelle, A. Bourdillat et C[ompagni]e, 1859.
8vo (172 × 105 mm), pp. [iv], 104, , plus folding wood engraved plate. Bound without the original wrappers in modern marbled boards.
First edition of an important early proposal for the popularisation of air travel by powered balloon. The first powered balloon flight had been achieved by Henri Giffard in 1852, but the major challenge facing early aeronautical engineers was the application of steam power to lighter-than-air craft. Named the Explorateur aerien, Farcot’s proposed craft was a fish-like airship of 15 tons carrying capacity with fins and double propellors and a 5 horsepower engine. He suggested its use for both pleasure and scientific experiment. Eugène Farcot (1830-96) was involved in the early flight experiments and was a member of the pioneering Société aérostatique et metéorologique; he rightly predicted the revolution in both travel and society which could be brought about by powered air travel, writing about it both in fiction and non-fiction and he later achieved celebrity as the pilot of the Louis-Blanc, one of the balloons which broke the Paris siege in 1870. A clock-maker by profession he was perhaps best known to his contemporaries for his sophisticated and expensive clock mechanisms.
Bibliotheca aeronautica, 442.