Supplementary Appendix 433.1

André-Jacques Garnerin’s Balloon Flight over Munich (June 1808)

Regrettably Caroline says little about the hot-air balloon exhibition by André-Jacques Garnerin in Munich in June 1808, who had performed earlier elsewhere in Germany as well, e.g., at the Frankfurt book fair in 1805 and for the royal couple in Berlin in 1803.

Garnerin’s hot-air balloon at the time was depicted on a poster advertising his appearance at the Frankfurter Michaelmas book fair on 15–16 September 1805, his thirty-ninth ascension at the time (his ascension in Munich would be his forty-second). The poster announcing his exhibition in Frankfurt shows Garnerin in his gondola waving a flag to the crowd of waving spectators below. Although hot-air balloons had already been aloft for twenty years, no German had yet attempted such a flight (antiquarian poster offering):


Not surprisingly, the exhibition before royalty in Munich played out much like that in Berlin, which was reported abroad as well; see the “Monthly Register: Foreign Intelligence: Prussia,” The Scots Magazine or General Repository of Literature, History, and Politics for the Year m.dccciii 65 (6 of third series) (Edinburgh 1803) May, pp. 350–52:


Berlin, April 16 [1803]. On the 13th the inhabitants of this city had the pleasure, for the second time, of witnessing the ascension of an air-balloon. M. Garnerin made his thirty-second journey above the clouds, with a successful issue.

The King, Queen, and Royal Family, were present at the previous ceremonies of ascension. On this occasion, her Majesty received from Madame Garnerin two small balloons filled with gas, which her Majesty let up from her own hand, in order to ascertain the course of the large one. The wind blew rather strong from the north-west. When the balloon was on the point of ascending, the son of a gentleman requested to accompany the aeronaut; on which M. Garnerin asked his Majesty, if he might give him leave. The King answered, that it rested alone with the youth’s parents; and as these were not present, the young man was obliged, very reluctantly to give up his place.

Madame Garnerin then entered the gondola with great agility, and as much ease as if she had been about to take a walk. M. Gaertner, partner of a merchant in this city, was of the party. When the balloon had ascended a certain height, M. Garnerin cut a rope to which a little dog in a basket was suspended to a parachute; and he fell on the roof of the post-office, without receiving any injury.

The balloon being now lightened by throwing out some of the ballast, it ascended rapidly above the city; and where, at a considerable height, the aerial travellers found the climate warmer, and the wind less boisterous. According to the state of the barometer, M. Garnerin found his highest ascension to be 6,200 feet from the earth. The sharpest eye only could distinguish the balloon at that immense distance, when it appeared no larger than a small bird. They alighted in a forest near Middenwalton at seven o’clock in the evening, having traversed four German miles in the space of one hour and a quarter.

After their return, M. Garnerin and his Consort waited on their Majesties, by whom they were most graciously received. The balloon and the gondola are again placed in the Opera-house for exhibition. M. Garnerin has made prize of no less than 10,000 dollars by this aerial cruise.

Caroline would likely have observed scenes similar to those illustrated for a later balloon expedition in Germany related by Monck Mason, Aeronautica; or, Sketches Illustrative of the Theory and Practice of Aerostation: Comprising an Enlarged Account of the Late Aerial Expedition to Germany [London 1838], plates following (in order: pp. 84, 72, 230):



Garnerin’s parachute gondola (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 20, ]New York 1911]):


André-Jacques Garnerin arrived in Munich on 16 March 1808 (“Fremden-Anzeige,” Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 66 [13 18 March 1808], 270), then gave lectures in experimental physics in the redoute hall [at Prannerstrasse 20] on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 11, 12, 13 April 1808 (Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 86 [Saturday, 9 April 1808], 350), equipped with a “complex pneumatic and electrical apparatus,” also demonstrating the principles involved by allowing a small hot-air balloon to ascend to the ceiling of the hall, emphasizing at the end of his lecture on Monday, however, that he would not presume to introduce new perspectives and discoveries to the grand and famous scholars in Munich (Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 88 [Tuesday, 12 April 1808], 357–58). The next announcement concerned an initial flight in Munich (Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 103 [Friday, 29 April 1808), 413):

(Munich.) Herr Garnerin has now announced that, His Majesty the King having condescended to commission him to provide for the city of Munich the spectacle of an air flight, he would try to conduct this splendid physical experiment between the 15th and 23th of May [1808]. Persons wishing to observe this experiment up close can obtain entry tickets in the first seats for 2 fl. 24 kr., and for the second seats for 1 fl. 12 kr. One might note that the air balloon with which Herr Gernerin will be ascending has already been tentatively set up and will be shown on the occasion of his physics lectures. This will be his 42nd air flight.

Although this flight was postponed “on the highest orders” till 9 or 10 June 1808 (Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 115 [Saturday, 14 May 1808], 465; 124 [Wednesday 25 May 1808], 505), it was finally held on Friday, 10 June 1808 (Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 138 [Saturday, 11 June 1808], 561):


Munich, 11 June. Yesterday evening a 5:45 pm, the anticipated air flight of Herr Garnerin took place from the rear courtyard of the Royal Residence amid favorable weather. To provide spectators with a convenient view of this handsome spectacle, elevated, stepped tribunes were erected on both sides capable of accommodating several thousand people.

Here the royal complex in 1809 with the Royal Residence on the left and the various courtyards indicated; the “rear courtyard” is presumably the large Kaiserhof on this map (Königlich Baiersche Haupt und Residenzstadt München am 1. Januar 1809 [Munich 1809]; Bayerisches Landesvermessungsamt München, Nr. 558/03):


The account continues:

The balloon, which had been filled with hydrogen gas since early yesterday, hovered in the center between the two tribunes, where it was tethered and held fast by workers. Once the Supreme Royal Personages had arrived with their entourage, Herr Garnerin hastened preparations for his departure. A small air balloon that he had set aloft beforehand indicated the direction the grand balloon would be taking. The first balloon rose quite high before disappearing from view in the east.

After all preparations had been completed, Herr Garnerin climbed into his ship, whose balance he established with ballast. He then had himself and his balloon, which was decorated with the flags of Bavaria and Württemberg [in honor of the wedding of Princess Charlotte Auguste of Bavaria with the crown prince of Württemberg], and with the eagle and flag of France, be drawn around in a circle at a slight distance from the earth, took leave of the assembly, and as he again came round to the seats of the Royal Personages, the tethering cords were released on his command, and, carried by a gentle westward wind, and amid the rejoicing cries of several thousand spectators, the air balloon rose majestically upward.

Caroline and Schelling might have viewed the flight from various points in the town (see map below) (frontispiece to Captain Sowden and Mr. Locker, Air Balloon: A Full and Accurate Account of the Two Aërial Voyages Made By Monsr. Garnerin on Monday, June 28, and Monday, July 5, 1802 [Sommers-Town 1802]; second illustration: Caricatures parisiennes: Le Goût du Jour n° 8: Ascension de Madame Garnerin, le 28 mars 1802 [Paris 1802]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):



The account continues:

As he flew over the Isar River, he was greeted by cries of approval and admiration from the thousands of people watching the spectacle from the heights on the opposite side of the river. The balloon hovered like a celestial body coursing calmly and steadily along its appointed route through the immeasurable space of creation, constantly remaining visible to the naked eye, unperturbed by the still air. Herr Garnerin dropped a cat in a basket with the parachute onto a meadow past the bridge of Bogenhausen, with the cat landing on earth in perfect condition.

He descended first onto a cornfield at the village of Taglfingen, ascended again, and continued his journey along the Erdinger Road as far as Dornach, about 3 geographical hours from Munich, where he landed at 6:55 pm near some local oak trees. Royal General Customs Director von Miller, Herr Hiltl, and other gentlemen who had followed the balloon on horseback to it landing place, provided practical assistance for Herr Garnerin, also summoning obliging farmers from the village of Dornach to guide the air balloon, which was now two-thirds empty, back to town using the ropes that had been brought along.

And thus was it brought back around the Isar and Sendlinger Gates as far as the Karlsthor, hovering in the air amid the joyous cries of the people, who thereby enjoyed the beautiful spectacle anew, and from there accompanied to Nymphenburg. Herr Garnerin himself will provide details of the air voyage in a lecture.

A map from 1743 indicates the locales mentioned in this account (Carte des environs de Munich la capitale de Bavière dessinée suivant le dernier etât [1743]; source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans):


Garnerin provided a brief report on his flight on 10 June in his lecture on 13 June 1808, (Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 140 [Tuesday, 14 June 1808], 569), which in his words was to be reckoned among the most beautiful he had ever experienced. He calculated he had risen to an altitude of 3600 toises (Fr., “measuring rods”) above the heights of Munich and shortened his journey that he might return to Munich in time to repeat the flight at the illumination festivities in Nymphenburg on the following day, which, however, were canceled due to rain. The small hot-air balloon that had been used as a direction-finder (Garnerin calls it an aerostat) had been recovered, albeit thoroughly soaked from the rain, in Wasserburg am Inn, and returned to Garnerin.

He later published a four-column account of his experiences during the flight on 10 June in the Baierische National-Zeitung (1808) 143 (Saturday, 18 June 1808), 580–81. It seems the flight had been scheduled that morning but postponed till the evening because of rainy weather.

Before crossing the Isar River, he dropped a flag at the feet of the royal couple, later a large piece of paper, and finally the cat with the parachute, in which, based on previous experience, he had fashioned a hole to address the problem of swaying. In the meantime, the damp chill alerted him that he was approaching close to a thick cloud cover, which he wanted to elude so as not to rob the royal couple of viewing the balloon in the distance; hence he opened the shutter to empty the balloon of some of the hydrogen.

He was, however, still able to view Lake Starnberg and others, as well as follow the circuitous course of the Isar River and glimpse the Tyrolean Alps (concerning these landscape features, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 8–17 September 1803 [letter 381], note 17). He also mentions that he had no trouble breathing. The rest of the flight followed the account in the newspaper earlier, except that Garnerin mentions that the balloon was then pulled to Nymphenburg for the festivities the following day, albeit without getting aloft again because of the rain, after which it was emptied and taken back to Munich.

Here Garnerin himself descending from his balloon by parachute in London on 22 October 1802 (George Thompson, A view of Monsr. Garnerin’s balloon and parachute, British Museum, Museum number 2000,0521.30; © The Trustees of the British Museum):


He does, however, point out that the previously mentioned 3600 toises altitude calculated according to a barometer elsewhere was incorrect; Garnerin himself had forgotten to notice the barometer when lifting off. A different calculation by someone on the ground had yielded a height of 3961 1/2 French feet above the Mediterranean Sea, and 2314 1/2 French Feet above that person’s room, which was 1647 feet above sea level. These figures are of some interest because it seems Franz von Baader took issue with these calculations in print, to which Garnerin responded in French in the article, dated 6 July 1808, “Reponse de Monsieur Garnerin aux observations de M. Baader, inserées dans l’Indicateur de Nuremberg [no. 52 (28 June 1808)], Baierische National-Zeitung (1808) 161 (Saturday 9 July 1808) 657–58, in which he pointed out Baader’s errors in calculation deriving from incorrect dimensions of the balloon itself, concluding with the quip:

The esteemed reviewer said things that were too admirable concerning my parachute to be distracted by the sadness he was caused by the cries of the cat that he heard at a distance of more than half a league! The sensibility of Monsieur Baader, this precise examiner of calculations, seems to me to be too respectable to irritate any further. Let him console the cat by means of beautiful calculations.

Munich, 6 July 1808


Garnerin left Munich soon after these events and returned to Paris.