Wilfrid de Fonvielle

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De Fonvielle photographed in 1905

Wilfrid de Fonvielle (25 July 1826 – 29 April 1914) was an aeronaut and science/technology writer. He was the first secretary of the International Commission for Scientific Aeronautics.

He was an early participant in the Société astronomique de France, founded by Camille Flammarion, and made balloon ascents for the purpose of astronomical as well as meteorological observation.[1][2]

On 24 November 1870, Fonvielle and four others escaped the siege of Paris on the airship Egalité.[3]




  1. Camille Flammarion, "Wilfrid de Fonvielle"; L'Astronomie 28, pp. 339–343.
  2. W. de Fonvielle, "L'Aérostation et la météorologie"; L'Astronomie 25, pp. 441–442.
  3. Karl Blind, "The Siege of Paris and the Air-Ships"; North American Review 166(497), April 1898. "With the balloon Egalité, Wilfrid de Fonvielle at last went out of Paris, on November 24, with four companions. Only a few open letters were taken in, and of provisions very little—ox sausage, roasted horse-flesh, black bread, some bottles of claret and coffee. An essential part of the baggage was four cages with carrier-pigeons. About thirty bags of ballast were hooked on the outside of the air-ship. This well-conceived arrangement, thought out by M. Fonvielle, has since then been often repeated with great success. Soon the cloud-voyagers heard the 'German music'—that is, the shots sent after them. M. Fonvielle explained to his companions that that at the great altitude to which they had risen all projectiles lose their power, nay, that they could be intercepted and caught up, whilist in falling down they might hurt the enemy himself."