Agustín de Bethencourt y Molina was an engineer and military man who was born in Puerto de la Cruz in 1758. He was considered one of the major Spanish scientists of the 19th century. Bethencourt was among the most prominent European figures of his time and played a significant role in the Canarian Enlightenment. He followed his career in Spain, France and Russia, where he died in 1824. Bethencourt y Molina was responsible for the first hot air balloon to fly in Spain, and also carried out work in the fields of hydraulics and mechanics which proved highly important in his time. In 1819 he was appointed Director General of the Department of Communication Channels in Russia. His professional achievements ranged from steam engines to structural engineering and urban planning.