Intrepid Cleared To Launch At Genesee Country Village & Museum
he Intrepid -- the world's first replica of a manned Civil War balloon -- has been cleared for public flights beginning Wednesday, July 4 at Genesee Country Village & Museum. Weather permitting, the balloon will take guests approximately 300 feet (32 stories) into the sky, simulating what the world's first military pilots experienced 150 years ago.
The Intrepid project has captured the imagination of families, educators, historians and aviation enthusiasts across North America. Renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, adventure balloonist and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson, and the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum's senior curator of Aeronautics, Tom D. Crouch, Ph.D., have praised the reconstruction.
"The Intrepid was the predecessor to modern-day military aviation, foreshadowing the future of military reconnaissance communications," said Peter Arnold, GCV&M's CEO and president. "The pilot would send intelligence information -- troop movements, artillery compensation instructions, and more -- to soldiers on the ground via telegraph. It was a remarkably innovative concept at the time."
Conceived by Professor Thaddeus Lowe, the Union Army Balloon Corps was personally approved by President Abraham Lincoln in June 1861. Like the genuine seven gas balloons used during the Civil War, the Intrepid is tethered to land for optimal convenience and safety. CV&M's Intrepid utilizes helium instead of hydrogen, which was easily generated in the 1860s using iron filings and acid. A generous donation from Macy's, Inc. during the current nationwide helium shortage allowed the project to carry forward on schedule.
Fifteen-minute flights cost $10 for GCV&M members or $15 for non-members in addition to standard Museum admission rates. A team of prominent advisors is assisting with the project, including Dr. Crouch; Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA; and Rob Shenk, director, Internet Strategy & Development, Civil War Trust.
The museum, located between Rochester and Buffalo, is the largest living history museum in New York State, and maintains the third largest collection of historic buildings in the United States.
(Civil War era photo of original balloon 'Intrepid')