#3057 The History of Military Balloons

07/12/2023 01:30 PM - 03:30 PM MT


Register and pay for five classes at once and receive the sixth class for free.  You must register over the phone or in person.  This discount does not apply to registering online.  (The free class is of the same or lesser value.)


Wednesday, July 12, 1:30 pm - 3:30pm

#3057 The History of Military Balloons

Instructor: Tom Menza

The Chinese balloon that crossed the United States and was shot down over the east coast was not the first balloon used for spying.  In 1783, the French Mongolphier brothers built the first balloon lifted by hot air to carry humans. Both the North and South in the American Civil War used hydrogen gas balloons carrying an observer to watch the enemy.  Similar balloons used in World War I evolved into blimps, dirigibles, and Zeppelins that bombed London in WWII. In the early 1950s, a military base near Roswell New Mexico used a new substance called mylar for spy balloons carrying small cameras timed to operate when they drifted over Russia.  When a civilian from Roswell discovered a downed balloon along the roadside near town, the local news wrote there was nothing like this material on earth.  It must be from outer space. To hide their secret program, the military replied, we cannot confirm nor deny. The locals then assumed aliens were at the base. Today, Roswell has an Alien Pub, Alien Café, Alien Inn, and an Alien Museum. Aliens gave Roswell an economy.  Join us as we explore the history of military balloons.


Tom Menza, JD in Law from Denver University, MA from University of Colorado at Boulder.  He is a local attorney and former course director and assistant professor of World History and Modern Asia at the United States Air Force Academy.

$25 PILLAR Members / $40 Nonmembers