Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Passarola

An adventure in the skies of Lisbon

300 years ago, the jesuitic priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão was the first to attempt the rise of an object heavier than the air. That took place in Lisbon, in 1709. The priest was a student at the Coimbra University, only 24 years old.

He started raising acclaim of an important audience – King, Queen, Rome Church representative – when he successfully left rising up to the ceiling a balloon filled with hot air.

Then he built a large manned version called “Passarola”. Launched from the St Jorge Castle, on the top of a hill in Lisbon, Gusmão drived his Passarola flying about 1 Km before landing at the city’s main square.
Known since then as “The Flying Priest”, he deserves a place among the airship flying pioneers.