Smithsonian Recounts Balloon Flights of Civil War

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By: Brett Zongker, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP).- The National Air and Space Museum will re-create a key moment in the nation’s first attempt at an air force during the Civil War 150 years ago — decades before the first airplane flight. In June 1861, Thaddeus Lowe flew 500 feet above the National Mall in a gas-filled balloon to show President Abraham Lincoln how balloons could be used to spy on the Confederates. Lowe’s balloon, the Enterprise, remained tethered to the ground, and Lowe sent Lincoln the first telegram ever transmitted from the air. “The flight was designed to draw Abraham Lincoln into the business,” said Smithsonian flight historian Tom Crouch. “Lincoln was fascinated by technology.” Lowe’s handlers then pulled the balloon close to the ground and guided it to the White House. The “aeronaut”