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On the 21st of nowember 1783, in Paris, Benjamin Franklin was among the hundreds of people who gathered in the gardens of the Rue de Montreuil to attend a wonderful spectacle : the first manned flight in history.

The courageous followers of Icare were Francois Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes, using a device invented by the Montgolfier brothers: the hot-air balloon ("Montgolfière" still means "balloon" in modern French).

Of course, people who watched the sight were amazed beyond description; however, as often happens with great discoveries, some sceptics loudly expressed their contempt for the invention. One of them clutched Franklin's arm and asked him scornfully :
    "Monsieur, franchement, à quoi peut bien servir de s'envoler dans les airs ?" (Sir, frankly, what's the use of flying in the air ?)
To which Franklin replied:
    "Monsieur, à quoi peut bien servir l'enfant qui vient de naître ?" (Sir, what's the use of a newborn baby ?)

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