A wine-themed tale from Richard Holmes’ history of ballooning “Falling Upwards: How we Took to the Air”

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In 1836, Charles Green (1785–1870), accompanied by Monck Mason and the MP for Hastings Robert Hollond, set a major long distance record in the balloon “Royal Vauxhall”, flying overnight from Vauxhall Gardens in London – ten minutes from where I live – to Weilburg in the Duchy of Nassau (now Germany), a distance of 480 miles.

The three Victorian gentlemen took plenty of provisions with them, including 16 pints each (!) of Sherry, Port, and Brandy, with several dozen bottles of Champagne. Holmes calculated that the daily ration for each man was a pint of fortified wines and several glasses of Champagne.

Mason noted that the Champagne was adversely affected by the altitude: The lower pressure meant that it simply shot frothing out of the bottle, which Mason wittily called its “natural tendency to flying”.


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