A century of slow pro

Friends FB post

Today I learned that the first crossing of the English Channel by air was in 1785!
... Also, it was not accomplished using a hot-air balloon! Instead, the pilots used a mixture of sulfuric acid and iron tailings to produce a large volume of hydrogen gas, which they used to inflate a sealed balloon.
They found that their primitive blimp wasn't gaining enough altitude mid-flight, so they threw everything they could overboard to lighten the load, including their pants, leading them to land in rural France nearly naked. It turns out there was a strong rivalry between hydrogen balloonists and hot-air balloonists to hit various records in the late 1700s. One of the early pioneers tried a hybrid hydrogen balloon / hot-air balloon to get the flexibility of both systems. This must have seemed like a brilliant idea to them, but it had some unfortunately explosive results.
More details here: http://www.ltaflightmagazine.com/the-first-aerial.../ A couple of years ago learned that there was actually a century of notable but frustratingly slow progress in aviation before the Wright Brothers made their historic flight.