Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse

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Monsieur and Madame Garnerin (Christoph Haller von Hallerstein, c. 1803)
Early balloon flight. Spectators watching French balloonist Jeanne-Geneviève Garnerin (born 1779) ascending in a balloon on 28 March 1802. A few years earlier, Garnerin had been the first woman to ascend in a balloon without a male pilot. Artwork published in the 1870s in a historical Parisian fashion magazine.
Schematic depiction of Garnerin's first parachute used in the Parc Monceau descent of 22 October 1797. Illustration dates from the early nineteenth century.
Garnerin releases the balloon and descends with the help of a parachute, 1797. Illustration from the late 19th century.

Jeanne-Geneviève Garnerin (1775–1847), née Labrosse,[1] was a French balloonist and parachutist. She was the wife of André-Jacques Garnerin, a hydrogen balloonist and inventor of the frameless parachute.

Labrosse first flew on 10 November 1798, one of the earliest women to fly in a balloon.[Note 1] She subsequently became the first to ascend solo and, on 12 October 1799, the first woman to make a parachute descent (in the gondola), from an altitude of 900 meters.

Biography[edit]

Jeanne Labrosse was amongst the crowd watching André-Jacques Garnerin's first hydrogen balloon flight and parachute descent at Parc Monceau, Paris on 22 October 1797. She made his acquaintance, became his pupil, and flew with him on 10 November 1798, at Parc Monceau. She is sometimes described as the first women in the world to fly in a balloon [2][3] although Élisabeth Thible made a free flight in 1784, and Citoyenne Henri flew with Garnerin on 8 July 1798, four months earlier. [Note 2]

On 12 October 1799, Labrosse became the first woman to parachute, from an altitude of 900 meters. She went on to complete many ascents and parachute descents in towns across France and Europe.[1]

Patent for parachute[edit]

On 11 October 1802, she filed a patent application on behalf of her husband for: "a device called a parachute, intended to slow the fall of the basket after the balloon bursts. Its vital organs are a cap of cloth supporting the basket and a circle of wood beneath and outside of the parachute and used to hold it open while climbing: it must perform its task at the moment of separation from the balloon, by maintaining a column of air."[Note 3][4][5]

Touring England[edit]

André-Jacques held the position of Official Aeronaut of France and was unofficially known as the aérostatier des fêtes publiques,[6] so the couple visited England in 1802 during the Peace of Amiens. They completed a number of demonstration flights, including his first flight ascending from the Volunteer Ground in North Audley Street, Grosvenor Square and a parachute descent to a field near St Pancras.[7] This gave rise to the popular English doggerel:

Bold Garnerin went up
Which increased his Repute
And came safe to earth
In his Grand Parachute.[8]

Jeanne Garnerin accompanied him on his third flight over London. One of her parachute descents was estimated at 8,000 feet (2,438 m). When the war between France and Great Britain resumed in 1803, the couple were forced to leave England and return to France, where she continued to make flights and descents.[9][10]

Family life[edit]

Garnerin's husband died in 1823. Garnerin later met French heroine Marie-Thérèse Figueur, Madame Sans-Gêne, who had fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars, with whom she reportedly opened a table d'hôte restaurant.[11]

Jeanne's niece, Elisa Garnerin (Elizabeth), (born 1791),[12] learned to fly balloons at age 15, and made 39 professional parachute descents from 1815 to 1836 in Italy, Spain, Russia, Germany and France.[1][13][14][Note 4]

Commemoration[edit]

On 17 October 2006, the rue Jeanne Garnerin in Wissous, France, was named in her honour.[15]

See also[edit]

  • Citoyenne Henri – the first woman who accompanied André-Jacques Garnerin on a trip by balloon on 8 July 1798 from the Parc Monceau in Paris.
  • Louis-Sébastien Lenormand – inventor and pioneer in parachuting.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ On 20 May 1784, the Marchioness and Countess of Montalembert, the Countess of Podenas and Miss de Lagarde, flew in a tethered balloon in Paris. On 4 June 1784, in Lyon Elizabeth Thible was the first woman to fly in an untethered balloon. On 8 July 1798, Citoyenne Henri was the first woman balloonist to be taken by André-Jacques Garnerin. His early publicity suggests that he may have had other women in the 4 months before taking Labrosse on 10 November.
  2. ^ Some internet sources conflate the flights of 8 July and 10 November 1798, by Miss Henri and Miss Jeanne Labrosse, and derive the modernist myth of the first all-female ascent.
  3. ^ The patent application of Madam Garnerin un appareil dit parachute, destiné à ralentir la chute de la nacelle d'un ballon après l'explosion de celui-ci. Ses organes essentiels sont une calotté d'étoffe supportant la nacelle et un cercle de bois qui se trouve en dessous et à l'extérieur du parachute et servant à le tenir un peu ouvert lors de l'ascension : il doit faciliter son développement au moment de la séparation avec le ballon, en y maintenant une colonne d'air. Brevet n° 195, déposé le 11 octobre 1802
  4. ^ Elizabeth Garnerin was especially popular in Italy, where she was hailed as the "Prima Aeroporista" (or First Parachutist) of France when she made her twenty-second and twenty-third descents in Milan (5 March and 5 April 1824). The crowds were delighted when she waved both French and Italian flags from the basket.

References[edit]