1783, The First Race to the sky 52' by Stéphane Bégoin


On 21 November 1783, one of humanity’s oldest dreams finally came true: two brothers, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, took to the sky on board a flying machine they created, a hot air balloon!

A few months later in England, two men – an Anglo-American named John Jeffries and Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard – embarked on a plan to balloon across the English Channel. This marked the start of an amazing competition between England and France, the first race to the sky! What did those creatures of the sky actually look like? Is it possible to recreate them and to relive, onboard, their key moments?

Guillaume de Montgolfier (a descendant of the famous brothers), Tom Crouch, curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington and a team of experts, will try to answer these questions by setting themselves a challenge: to build an identical replica of one of the first balloons and to fly it above Versailles and across the Channel, for the first time since the 18th century.

To make the giant balloon will take months and and , the team will use the materials and tools of the time to create a monster of sackcloth and paper as high as an eight-story building.

In this documentary, we will relive the incredible adventures of the pioneers and will share, in their mad pursuit, their thirst for victory and their ignorance of the potential risks.


Direction: Stéphane Bégoin


Genre: History

Available versions: French, English

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