99 Rot Balloons

The American military have been using balloons, dirigibles, and similar lighter-than-air airships for well over a hundred years, though they’ve, perhaps, fallen out of favor in recent decades. Fleets of balloons hunted German and Japanese submarines off the coast during WWII, and the Navy alone operated dirigibles, blimps, or balloons from 1917 to 1962.

Those, of course, weren’t the only users of, or indeed uses for, airships – they also made (and make) quite remarkable aerial photography platforms, and it’s unlikely that there were more frequent users of balloons and blimps for this purpose than the Army Corps of Engineers’ Beach Erosion Board, long dissolved into other organizations. A few examples of their pioneering aerial photography work can be seen in a report on their archives, produced a couple of years ago for the Corps of Engineers’ Shore and Beach magazine. One example is below, Atlantic City, taken a day after the September 14, 1944 hurricane battered the northeast:

If you’re interested in ballons, blimps, dirigibles, and other exceedingly slow ways to fly the friendly skies, then this report, from the Naval Research Advisory Committee’s Panel on Lighter-Than-Air Systems for Future Naval Missions, is a must-read. Happily for all of us, it’s remarkably in-depth, and written for real human beings, not laden with technical or military jargon. Learn about the high altitude possibilities of lighter-than-air craft, or the unique potential of heavy-lift airships. You can even discover a few tantalizing hints about the loss of a Skyship 600 in – apparently – military service. Hmmn…

Published in: General, History, Security | on July 23rd, 2007| Comments Off on 99 Rot Balloons

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