FP100: No. 36

Vincenzo Lunardi memorial. Pic: Kim Traynor
Vincenzo Lunardi memorial. Pic: Kim Traynor

Vincenzo Lunardi

Attached to a large rock that sits in front of the gatepost of an unassuming field in the countryside near Ceres, is a plaque commemorating an historic event that few people are even aware of.

It was on October 5, 1785, that an Italian by the name of Vincenzo Lunardi lifted off in his “aerostatic machine” (in other words, hot air balloon) from the garden of George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh for what would be the first of a series of historic balloon flights across Scotland.

A 46 mile flight later, most of it over water, the intrepid Lunardi landed once more at Coaltown of Callange in the parish of Ceres, to be greeted by enthusiastic locals and dignitaries who escorted him to Cupar and then on to St Andrews where, among other honours, he was granted the freedom of the town.

This plaque at nearby Baldinnie was erected in 1986 to commemorate the bicentenary of this remarkable achievement.

Lunardi wasn’t the first to attempt balloon flight in Scotland, but none had travelled much distance, and Lunardi’s trip to Fife is regarded as the first aerial voyage in Scotland.