Thursday, February 11, 2016
Centenary of the Baloon Post in France 16.11.1971
The Siege of Paris, lasting from 19 September 1870 to 28 January 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces, led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune.
Balloon mail was the only means by which communications from the besieged city could reach the rest of France. The use of balloons to carry mail was first proposed by the photographer and balloonist Felix Nadar, who had established the grandiosely titled No. 1 Compagnie des Aérostatiers, with a single balloon, theNeptune, at its disposal, to perform tethered ascents for observation purposes. However the Prussian encirclement of the city made this pointless, and on Nadar wrote to the Council for the Defence of Paris proposing the use of balloons for communication with the outside world: a similar proposal had also been made by the balloonist Eugène Godard. The first balloon launch was carried out on , using the Neptune, and carried 125 kg (276 lb) of mail in addition to the pilot. After a three-hour flight it landed at Craconville 83 km (52 mi) from Paris.
Balloon mail refers to the transport of mail (usually for weight reasons in the form of a postcard) carrying the name of the sender by means of an unguided hydrogen or helium filled balloon. Since the balloon is not controllable, the delivery of a balloon mail is left to good fortune; often the balloon and postcard are lost. A found balloon should be returned to the sender (by conventional post) with an indication of the discovery site, so that the sender can determine how far their balloon flew. Frequently balloon mail is sent as part of a balloon competition.Historically, balloons were used to transport mail from Paris during the Siege of Paris of 1870-71. About 66 unguided mail balloons were released from Paris to communicate with outside world, of which the great majority succeeded in delivering their cargo. As the Prussian forces surrounded the city, telegraph lines were cut and messengers were captured, shot or turned back.