Blanchard made his first successful balloon flight in
Paris on 2 March 1784, in a hydrogen
gas balloon launched from the
Champ de Mars. The first successful manned balloon flight had taken place on 21 November 1783, when
Pilâtre de Rozier and the
Marquis d'Arlandes took off at
Palace of Versailles in a free-flying
hot air balloon constructed by the
Montgolfier brothers. The first manned hydrogen balloon flight had taken place on December 1, 1783, when Professor
Jacques Charles and
Nicolas-Louis Robert launched
La Charlière from the
Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. Blanchard's flight nearly ended in disaster, when one spectator (Dupont de Chambon, a contemporary of
Napoleon at the École militaire de Brienne) slashed at the balloon's mooring ropes and oars with his sword after being refused a place on board. Blanchard intended to "row" northeast to
La Villette but the balloon was pushed by the wind across the
Billancourt and back again, landing in the rue de Sèvres. Blanchard adopted the Latin tag
Sic itur ad astra as his
The early balloon flights triggered a phase of public "
balloonomania", with all manner of objects decorated with images of balloons or styled au ballon, from ceramics to fans and hats. Clothing au ballon was produced with exaggerated puffed sleeves and rounded skirts, or with printed images of balloons. Hair was coiffed à la montgolfier, au globe volant, au demi-ballon, or à la Blanchard.
Blanchard moved to London in August 1784, where he took part in a flight on 16 October 1784 with
John Sheldon, just a few weeks after the first flight in Britain (and the first outside France), when Italian
Vincenzo Lunardi flew from
Ware on 15 September 1784. Blanchard's propulsion mechanisms – flapping wings and a windmill – again proved ineffective, but the balloon flew some 115 km from the military academy in
Chelsea, landing in
Sunbury and then taking off again to end in
Romsey. Blanchard took a second flight on 30 November 1784, taking off with an American, Dr
John Jeffries, from the
Rhedarium behind Green Street
Mayfair, London to
Kent. A third flight, again with Jeffries, was the first flight over the
English Channel, taking about 2½ hours to travel from England to France on 7 January 1785,
 flying from
Dover Castle to
Guînes. Blanchard was awarded a substantial pension by Louis XVI. (A subsequent Channel crossing attempt in the opposite direction by
Pilâtre de Rozier on 15 June 1785 ended unsuccessfully in a fatal crash.)
Blanchard toured Europe, demonstrating his balloons. He holds the record of first balloon flights in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. Among the events that included demonstrations of his abilities as a balloonist was the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor
Leopold II as
King of Bohemia in
Prague in September 1791.
Following the invention of the modern
parachute in 1783 by
Sébastien Lenormand in
France, in 1785 Jean-Pierre Blanchard demonstrated it as a means of jumping safely from a hot air balloon. While Blanchard's first parachute demonstrations were conducted with a dog as the passenger, he later had the opportunity to try it himself when in 1793 his hot air balloon ruptured and he used a parachute to escape. Subsequent development of the parachute focussed on making it more compact. While the early parachutes were made of linen stretched over a wooden frame, in the late 1790s, Blanchard began making parachutes from folded silk, taking advantage of silk's strength and light weight.
On 9 January 1793, Blanchard conducted the first balloon flight in the Americas.
 He launched his balloon from the prison yard of
Walnut Street Jail in
Pennsylvania and landed in
New Jersey. One of the flight's witnesses that day was President
George Washington, and the future presidents
James Madison, and
James Monroe were also present. Blanchard left the United States in 1797.
He married Marie Madeleine-Sophie Armant (better known as
Sophie Blanchard) in 1804. On February 20, 1808, Blanchard had a
heart attack while in his balloon at the
Hague. He fell from his balloon and died roughly a year later (March 7, 1809) from his severe injuries. His widow continued to support herself with ballooning demonstrations until it also killed her.