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Gaston Tissandier

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Gaston Tissandier (November 21, 1843 – August 30, 1899) was a French chemist, meteorologist, aviator and editor.

Adventurer could be added to the list of his titles, as he managed to escape besieged Paris by balloon in September 1870. He founded and edited the scientific magazine La Nature and wrote several books.

His brother was illustrator Albert Tissandier (1839-1906). His son Paul Tissandier (1881-1944) also became a well known aviator in his own right.

Gaston Tissandier was born in Paris in 1843. He studied chemistry and in 1864 became the head of the experimental laboratory of Union nationales. He was also a teacher at Association polytechnique.

His interest in meteorology led him to take up aviation. His first trip in the air was conducted at Calais in 1868 together with Claude-Jules Dufour, where his balloon drifted out over the sea and was brought back by an air stream of opposite direction in a higher layer of air.

In September 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, he managed to leave the besieged Paris by balloon. His most adventurous air trip, however, took place in April 1875. Together with Joseph Croce-Spinelli and Théodore Sivel, he was able to reach in a balloon the unheard of altitude of 8,600 metres. They ran out of oxygen and became unconscious. Only Tissandier regained consciousness before the balloon crashed, and both of his companions died. Tissandier survived, but became deaf.

In 1883, Tissandier fitted a Siemens electric motor to a dirigible airship, thus creating the first electric-powered flight.

Tissandier reported his meteorological observations to the French Academy of Sciences. In 1873 he founded the weekly scientific magazine La Nature, which he edited until 1896, after which it was continued by others. He also authored several books.

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