Tuesday, June 7, 2016

National Balloon Museum - Part 2

The National Balloon Museum has a basket available for visitors to take photos in.  The gentleman who was acting as museum curator kindly consented to have a picture taken with me.  He told us about ballooning in the area and the yearly festival, and gave us information on how to get a balloon ride. 
Besides the rooms filled with displays, the museum also has a small theater and a library.  The oldest book I noticed was The Aeronautical Annual from 1895.  

Decorative balloon models hanging in the library looked like they would be great fun for Lilliputians--or the inhabitants of Martha's Miniaturopolis--to take rides in.

The Victorian cards reminded me of the postcard collections at another of my favorite blogs, John's Island.  All of the cards at the museum feature balloons, which were a big thing back in their heyday.  Most of them are from the early 1900s.  
Another interesting artifact was a fragment of the balloon used by Don Piccard to make the first balloon ascension after World War II in the United States.  Piccard used a salvaged Fugo balloon.

Unmanned Fugo bombing balloons were launched by the Japanese between November 1944 and April 1945.  It was hoped they would be blown onto the West Coast, start forest fires, and cause general panic.  Each balloon carried four incendiary bombs and one 33-pound anti-personnel bomb.  An estimated 9000 were launched, and about 500 of these reached the U.S., travelling to 16 states--as far east as Michigan and Texas.

The existence of these balloons was censored until May 1945.  The government figured the balloons posed little threat to the public, and they did not want the Japanese to know any successfully made it to the U.S.  On May 5, 1945 a woman and five children on a church picnic discovered a balloon in a remote area of Oregon and were killed when an attached bomb exploded.  After this, the government warned the public of the balloons.  The six are the only known casualties of World War II on the U.S. mainland.

Over 3000 barrage balloons were used in Britain during World War II to help protect against dive-bombing attacks.
The museum had a gift shop with t-shirts, glassware, postcards, and other souvenirs.  There was also an area for kids to color, learn about balloons, and play.

The beautiful stained glass window below is a real eye-catcher.  The museum has a stained glass window project, through which they hope to replace seven other windows with similarly stunning designs celebrating ballooning throughout the various regions of the United States. 

Visiting the National Balloon Museum was well worth the $3 admission fee.  Last year in "Expenses, Relativity, and Elephants," I wrote about spending $30 on a circus...and eating a $30 meal at a country club.  

Neither experience, though 10 times as expensive, offered anywhere near the educational value or fascinating features this museum offered.  I would recommend the National Balloon Museum to anyone visiting Indianola, Iowa.

26 comments:

  1. It is a really interesting museum which worth visiting

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  2. Hi Bethany, The National Balloon Museum is really fascinating. I've very much enjoyed reading both of your posts about your visit and seeing the photos. AND, you made my day by mentioning John's Island! :-) Thank you so much! Now, do you believe this ... In your first mosaic photo, lower right, we see some of the postcards they have on display. Looking carefully at those cards I see at least one card that is also in my collection: It's on the bottom row, second from right, and it is one of the popular "The Cracker Jack Bears" cards! Remember how Cracker Jacks had a prize in each box? For a while, the prize was one of those postcards. There are 14 in the full series. I think there are at least 3 of the cards that feature the bears going up in a balloon! I'm going to do a post on these cards in the months ahead. I hope that wasn't TMI. :-) I found the story about the bombing balloons very interesting and this is the first time I've heard about it. Wow, I'm always learning something on Today Liberty or Death! :-) I love the stained glass window ... so cool! Lastly ... the "required" gift shop ... Well, all museums seem to have them and I am a sucker in those shops ... gotta find something to commemorate my visit! Another great post here and thanks so much for sharing! And thanks again for the mention!!! Have a great day Bethany!

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    1. Oh wow! No wonder I thought of you! That is so neat that you have at least one of those cards in your collection! I will be looking forward to your post on the Cracker Jack Bear cards! Have a great day as well!

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  3. about as far off the ground as I'd like to be there

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    1. Heh! I wouldn't mind being a bit higher. ;) But to each his own!

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  4. Seeing that basket, I realise that going up in one might be too risky! It doesn't look too sturdy!
    The stained glass window is beautiful! A great museum and thanks for sharing!

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    1. The basket I'm pictured in has probably aged a bit. I imagine (hope) the ones they use to go up in are a bit stronger.

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  5. Looks like a really fun and fascinating place to visit Bethany! I LOVE love love that window! Beautiful!! I don't know that'd you'd ever get me up in one of those though. Lol
    xoxo

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    1. Ha! I guess a balloon could be quite scary for someone not fond of heights. I think I would love the view! The window is lovely! :)

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  6. wow an intersting story about the bombing balloons. I like the mini balloons too.

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    1. Wouldn't it be interesting if we could daily learn one new historical fact?!

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  7. This is so cool, cousin! I really want to go and visit this museum. Thanks for posting about it and sharing photos.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Em! Hope you are able to make it down there one of these days!

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  8. Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful and very interesting place. I think I would have been extremely tempted to pick something up in the gift shop for my photography. Thanks for the mention, Bethany! I really appreciate that. And yes, my little people would have fun with those decorative balloon models. I think I would, too :)

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    1. I always love to see what your little people are up to! Your blogs are a lot of fun, Martha!

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  9. Sounds like a neat museum. Love the Stained Glass. We have a Hot Air Balloon Festival here in Oct. - I'm hoping someday to go up in a balloon.

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    1. I imagine the balloon festival is a lot of fun to watch--and an amazing place for a photographer to spend a day!

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  10. Very interesting to know that balloons had also a use for war purposes. I have never been flying in the sky into a balloon. I guess that it is very different than flying by plane. Anyway it should be very nice flying in a balloon. I like the stained glass window that you are showing here. It has wonderful shapes and colors. Great post!

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    1. It would be a very interesting experience! I love to see stained glass windows at the various churches I visit, so finding one at a balloon museum was a special treat!

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  11. How exciting! There is something so magical, to me, about hot air balloons...at least the ones that don't have bombs attached to them! I had no idea they were used by the Japanese in World War II but I'm glad they didn't do as much damage as anticipated.

    Thanks for sharing, Bethany!

    Dani xoxo
    a vapor in the wind

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    1. I did not know about the Japanese bombing balloons either until I visited the museum! Thanks for stopping by, Dani!

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  12. Three smackers to get in is a great price and wow, what bang for your educational buck.

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    1. Agreed! Admission was a great price.

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    2. And so affordable. I tell ya, I haven't been to somewhere like this in a long time. I ask Tim what we have around here.

      Looks like fun.

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    3. There are a few places that are free, but this place was pretty close to as good as it gets!

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