Two Martyrs of Science from a Fatal Balloon Ride Rest Hand-in-Hand in Père Lachaise Cemetery

Resting eternally hand-in-hand in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris are two balloonists who tried to fly higher than anyone had before. The monument to Joseph Croce-Spinelli and Théodore Sivel shows the two draped beneath a shroud, their fingers laced together and an inscription on the side declaring them to have perished in a balloon called the Zenith on April 15, 1875, at around 28,000 feet. [...]

As Tissandier, the only survivor, later recalled: "One becomes indifferent, one thinks neither of the perilous situation nor of any danger; one rises and is happy to rise." Croce-Spinelli, revived by a gulp of oxygen, decided to throw out equipment and the balloon rose to 28,000 feet, according to a recording by their barometer. When Tissandier came to, he found his companions dead and the Zenith rapidly plummeting to the earth.

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One Response:

  1. Steve Allen says:

    High altitude science is still preceded by warnings: "One of the earliest effects of hypoxia is impairment of judgement - similar to mild intoxication." At Mauna Kea the most likely damage is to reputation as a result of things better left unsaid.

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