The Dream of Flying

Page 26




  Måns, the Swedish Cat makes a Flight and gets a new Home (1784)  

In Sweden with its short summer season became ballooning not so common in the 19th century as on the continent. But the Swedish King Gustav III happened to travel to Italy and France in 1784 and became very interested in the recent great progress in balloon flying. On the 4th of June he passed Lyon, where a balloon ascent was arranged to his honour. The aerostat was named “Le Gustave” and the envelope was decorated in the Swedish colours of blue and gold.

The rumor of the king’s great interest of balloons and balloon flying reached the capital Stockholm before the king had returned. Two scientists, Bengt Reinhold Geijer and Henric Grahn, sent up a very small hydrogen balloon, only two cm in diameters, from Geijer’s laboratory in Stockholm. But a greater show was prepared to be held on the 17th of September. A larger “aerostatic ball” was manufactured and launched from the Observatory Hill in Stockholm. The hydrogen balloon carried a passenger, a cat with the name “Måns” ¨- “Måns” is still today a very common name of male cats in Sweden. The king and his court together with many of the leading persons in Sweden, including the French ambassador, attended the event and had also made it possible by economic contributions. The Councilor of the State, Carl Fredrik Scheffer, organized the event and engaged a Baron Silfverhjelm and his assistant Wilcke to make the balloon.

The balloon ascended in good order and took an eastward course towards the Baltic Sea. Later it was found at the large island of Värmdö about 30 km away. But Måns had disappeared - he had probably run away at the landing and hopefully started a new life on the rich and fertile island.

  Ascent of a gas balloon with a cat as passenger. The Observatory Hill, Stockholm, Sweden, 1784.  

King Gustav III of Sweden

Left: King Gustav III of Sweden (1746 - 1792).




  The old Stockholm Observatory from 1753 holds nowadays a museum, run by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. If you visit Stockholm, do not miss the chance to see the beautiful building, the panoramic view of the city and the interesting museum. For further information, click here.  
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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2009-05-13