On Saturday, the Smithsonian will commemorate the 150th anniversary of a hot-air balloon demonstration for Abraham Lincoln:
In June 1861, on what now is the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Thaddeus Lowe demonstrated to President Lincoln how a gas-filled balloon might be used to spy on the enemy—thus helping the Union Army and establishing the earliest “air force.” This marked the beginning of the Union Balloon Corps. The museum will commemorate the 150th anniversary of this event June 11.
The day’s programs will include an inflated balloon on the National Mall; re-enactors portraying Lowe, President Lincoln and Union soldiers; and presentations about ballooning and espionage during the Civil War and hands-on educational activities inside the museum.
The 19,000-cubic-foot, netted gas balloon will be partially inflated with a “cold air blower.” It was built in 1941 and is very similar in operation and size to the balloons used by Lowe.
Go here for a video on Lowe and his contraption. Below is an image of Lowe’s balloon, Enterprise, in Cincinnati.