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October 17, 1986

Aerospace Medicine; The First 200 Years

JAMA. 1986;256(15):2010. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380150020003

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AMERICAN AEROSPACE MEDICINE went on record exactly 200 years ago, when a Massachusetts physician's account of his scientific observations during pioneering balloon flights was read before members of the Royal Society in Britain. Shortly thereafter, what has been called "the first book in the English language on aeronautics by an American" appeared under the title "A Narrative of the Two Aerial Voyages of Doctor Jeffries with Mons [sic] Blanchard; with Meteorological Observations and Remarks, by Doctor Jeffries, London, 1786."

The author in both instances was John Jeffries, MD, who was born Feb 5, 1744, in Boston. He generally is credited with being "the first American to make a free flight in a balloon and the first balloonist to conduct scientific studies of the atmosphere" (Aviat Space Environ Med 1984;55:993-999 and 1985;56:99-104). He did so during a Nov 30, 1784, flight from London to Kent and a Jan 7, 1785, crossing