Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fly Spies - l’Entreprenant & High Flying Lowe

Thinking about all the modern spy drones and insect-like flying surveillance bugs makes minds boggle.

Remember the good old days when spies floated?

The first decisive use of a balloon for aerial observation was performed by the aérostat l’Entreprenant ("The enterprising one") at the Battle of Fleurus in 1794. The following year, during the Siege of Mainz an observation ballon was employed again. However, the French military use of the balloon did not continue un-interrupted as in 1799, Napoleon disbanded the French balloon corps.

The Intrepid was a hydrogen gas balloon or aerostat built for use by the Union Army Balloon Corps for aerial reconnaissance purposes during the American Civil War. It was one of seven balloons constructed for the Balloon Corps and was one of the four larger balloons designed to make ascensions to higher elevations with a larger lift capacity for telegraph equipment and an operator. It was the balloon of choice for Chief Aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe overlooking the Battle of Fair Oaks.

The fateful flight over the Battle of Fair Oaks was instrumental in saving the fragmented army of Union Army General Samuel P. Heintzelman from what would have been sure defeat at the hands of the Confederates. via