Sophie Blanchard, Roman Candle

December 23, 1811 Sophie Blanchard, the world’s first female professional balloonist, took off in Rome, falling into a “profound sleep” and ascending to 11,000 feet. Blanchard was nervous and excitable on land but fearless in the air. After her husband’s death in a ballooning accident Sophie had taken over his exhibition business specializing in night flights and an act in which she parachuted dogs or fireworks from the balloon basket.