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N.6 Marzo 2007

Flights ENG 
Early European Balloon Mails

The American Philosophical Society has what it claims to be the first airmail letter. Dated December 16, 1784, it is addressed by Benjamin Franklin's son, William, at London, England, to his son William Temple Franklin, at Passy near Paris, France. It was carried by John Jeffries on the first Channel crossing by balloon, piloted by Jean-Pierre Blanchard, from Dover to Calais on January 7, 1785. This international letter went totally outside official postal channels, arriving safely even if a bit late. Resume from article by Ernst M. Cohn published on The Posthorn, November 2003, illustrated with one of Colding's four surviving letters, dated June 2, 1808, now in the Royal Danish State Archives. This letter was addressed to King Fredrik VI at ''Headquarters Copenhagen'' with a notation that it was ''Carried across the Great Belt by aerostatic machine.''

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