Replica of Civil War-Era Balloon Takes to the Air
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"Sure there's family pride. He's definitely the guy that seems to stand out among most in our family,” said Terry Lowe.
Terry Lowe has a famous great-great-uncle you've likely never heard of.
"My great-great-grandfather was Pembroke Charles Somerset Lowe. And he was the younger brother of Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe. They kind of had long names."
Thaddeus Lowe's major accomplishment, way back in the 19th century, was The Intrepid.
"The Intrepid was the larger of the two largest balloons Thaddeus had. There were seven altogether."
A giant balloon, built for war.
"This balloon is a helium balloon, and it's replicating the hydrogen balloon that they used during the Civil War,” said Chuck LeCount, Genesee Country Village.
Intrepid had one purpose for the Union Army: spying on Confederate forces.
"There was a number of battles he was engaged with. He was up-and-down a lot,” Terry said.
Tuesday was rather breezy, and the balloon didn’t get very high. But you can imagine, with the balloon a thousand or more feet in the air, it was very easy to see over trees and buildings and other obstacles. With a Union telegraph operator sitting in the basket, he could easily dispatch the location of the opposing Confederate Army.
"When at all possible, he was in the air communicating troop movements."
The Intrepid replica now flies over the Monroe County hamlet of Mumford in the town of Wheatland with a few modern safety touches. It was made possible by $400,000 in donations and grants and a big donation of helium from none other than Macy's Department Stores, of Thanksgiving parade fame.
But what the balloon itself made possible Tuesday, was the dream of one man, 150 years in the making.
"Oh it was fantastic, this morning when we went up. That was a little bit scary up there this morning, I gotta admit. And that was only 250 feet. So if you're up a thousand feet or higher, I can imagine what that would be like,” Terry said.
"Isn't that fantastic?"
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