Airopaidia, 1785

Airopaidia. A 1785 account of how a brave aeronautic artist, Thomas Baldwin (1742-1804), became the first to describe and sketch in detail seeing Chester and its environs from the air…

“Things taking a favourable turn [in the ascending balloon], he stood up, but with knees a little bent — more easily to conform to accidental motions, as sailors when they walk the deck — and took a full gaze before, and below him. But what scenes of grandeur and scenes below! A tear of pure delight flashed in his eye, of pure and exquisite delight and rapture; to look down on the unexpected change already wrought [below him] in the works of art and nature, constrained to a [single] span [of the eye] by the new perspective, [and] diminished almost beyond the bounds of credibility.”


A dramatised painting of the balloon in which Baldwin ascended. The paddles were either removed or not used for Baldwin’s flight, and the shape of the balloon was probably rather longer and thinner than the perfect sphere depicted by the painter…



He flew twenty-five miles, and landed somewhere on Rixon Moss…


He’s probably unique in trying to visually convey to the public the top-down perspective. His colour depictions of the downward view must have been a very unusual pictures, for those who first saw them. Of course, they would have seemed somewhat similar to the top-down perspective of maps. But to see something like this must, at first, have been baffling…


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