Why Napoleon didn't like balloonists

In the spring of 1812, the young mechanic Franz Leppich was able to obtain an audience with the Emperor of France Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Lepich proposed to Napoleon a grandiose idea: the construction of a controlled aircraft, with the help of which it would be possible to raise shells into the air and destroy the enemy's army.

The idea, of course, was interesting. An aircraft attacking the enemy from the air could strengthen Napoleon's army, but he, after carefully listening to the inventor, resolutely refused. Bonaparte had a personal dislike for balloonists, and there was a good reason for that.

At the end of the 18th century, Jean-Pierre François Blanchard, an inventor and one of the first balloonists to fly in a hot air balloon, was extremely popular in Europe.

Back in 1785, Blanchard, for his services to France, received a lifetime pension - 12 thousand livres a year. And while touring North America, the Frenchman received a US passport from the hands of President George Washington. In addition, he was issued a document that obliged every American to render every assistance to Blanchard.

Many influential people considered it an honor to meet the legendary conqueror of the sky. But, one day in Paris, before a demonstration flight, a young cadet of one of the military schools approached Blanchard and made a daring request: take him with you. Aeronauts often took passengers on the flight, which was a good opportunity to earn money. But what to take from a young cadet? Not surprisingly, when Blanchard named the amount of payment for the air "excursion", the guy just threw up his hands in frustration, he naturally did not have that kind of money.

And the name of this cadet was Napoleon Bonaparte. By the way, Blanchard's refusal was not the only trouble for him: the leadership of the military school was informed about the attempt of one of the pupils to go on a flight. Young Bonaparte received a strict punishment: at that time, hot air ballooning was considered entertainment, in which, for a person wearing a military uniform, it was unacceptable. Since then, Napoleon began to treat the conquerors of the sky with hostility.

By the way, the fate of Jean-Pierre François Blanchard was tragic in 1809, during one of the flights, he had a heart attack. He landed unsuccessfully and soon died from his injuries. And 10 years later, his wife, who continued her husband's work, also died. In July 1819, her balloon caught fire. Sophie Blanchard collapsed from a great height and died from a fractured cervical vertebrae.