James Tytler

The first British person ever to successfully take to the skies in a hot air balloon was none other than a son of the manse from the Angus village of Fern. 

When he was only 18 years old, Tytler left Angus so he could attend medical classes at Edinburgh University. This enabled him to secure a job as ship's surgeon in the Dundee whaling fleet but, after two voyages, he returned to dry land. His attempts to find a position in Edinburgh as a surgeon failed so, instead, he set up in business as a pharmacist. 

A few of years later he became editor of the second edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. While working on the encyclopaedia, Tytler was inspired by stories of balloon flights and decided to fly his own hot air balloon in 1784 from Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Tytler later created the concept of copyright in Scotland. 

Once he became widely-known, Tytler was well regarded by some in the late 18th century's Scottish Enlightenment, particularly Robert Burns with whom Tytler collaborated in creating lyrics for Scottish ballads.

In 1792, Tytler, a member of a radical group "Friends of the People" was arrested for publishing an anti-Government pamphlet, at the time of the French Revolution. He later fled to Ireland and then to America where he continued to express his often-rebellious thoughts on paper, while creating the Universal Geography, an ancestor of the National Geographic. Remaining in exile for the rest of his life, Tytler died in 1804.