Monday, April 27, 2009

Professor Thaddeus Lowe

Today we feature a photograph of Professor Thadeus Lowe and his lighter than air balloon, the Intrepid. Lowe was a pioneering balloonist, and used his skill in the Civil War. He was appointed by the military to be the Army's Chief Aeronaut. He would take his balloons to the battlefield, and would ascend in the balloon to perform reconnaissance of enemy positions and activities. Interestingly enough, he was not universally appreciated by the military. Some thought he was being paid too much, and disputes over this led him to resign before the end of the war. In the end, he became a very wealthy man by inventing a way to make ice; the process was related to the process he used to create hydrogen gas for his balloon.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, great photos. I find it amazing that they had balloon flight as early as the 18th century..

    I would be terrified to go in ANY balloon. I'm afraid of heights and get vertigo, I feel like I'm being pulled over the edge.

    The last two photos remind me of The Wizard of Oz and that great scene at the end where Frank Morgan (the wizard) takes off in his balloon without Dorothy.

    All I can say is "I don't think we're in Kansas any more."

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  2. To Mrs. PJM:

    I've been away from the blog for a couple of days, but my husband is a champion sock-thrower, so I know the type.

    PJM doesn't look like one to me, but maybe he's deceiving.

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  3. Another very interest bit of history.

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  4. Boy oh boy, without stealth technology, if the enemy ever caught sight of him, his escape (so to speak) would not go un-noticed! You can see a hot air balloon from 5km away. It takes about 10 min to reach you and then another 10 min to leave your sight, leaving you like a kind of floating duck!

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  5. Well, if Professor Lowe invented a machine that made ice, then he must have been Doc Brown in "Back to the Future."

    In the third installment, Doc Brown invented an ice machine when he was in the "Old West" days of Hill Valley!!!

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  6. Fascinating! Or should I say, "Cool!"

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  7. Did any of the pioneer ballonists discover they had a fear of heights once they got up there? Just wondering.

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  8. This picture during the civil war era is interesting; a picture of America before the industrial era. You can see it in the soldiers.

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  9. AB:

    I agree. Great observation.

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  10. Readers can learn more about Thaddeus Lowe from my 2007 book THE BALLOONIST, the Story of T. S. C. Lowe, Inventor, Scientist, Magician, and Father of the U. S. Air Force, ISBN 978-1-929490-27-1. It is available at most libraries, or online from Amazon.com. The book is an interesting read, written as a historical novel, and covers Lowe's entire life, from his humble origins in New Hampshire to his death in California, in the shadow of Mount Lowe, which was named for him. You can read a brief excerpt from the book on my website www.StephenPoleskie.com, click on THE BALLOONIST. And yes, Professor Lowe was the prototype for "The Wizard of OZ."

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