View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Fri Aug 20th, 2010 06:03 am
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Hellcat
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Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
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As balloons, blimps, derigibles and gliders are labeled as lighter than air aircraft and airplanes and helicopters are labeled as heavier than air aircraft, it would seem to me the definition of an aircraft is any man made object designed to travel through the air but not capable of reaching space (the X-15 is in a shaddy area in that regard as it could reach the edge of space but most of it's flights don't qualify as space flights).

The first link you gave, TD (apologies if you don't want your screen name abbreviated) says that La Mountain made his first flight while his ballon was secured to the stern of the Fanny, not that he did or did not launch from the Fanny. So that seems to leave open whether he launched from the shore and secured himself to the Fanny for whatever reason (perhaps he intended to be towed) or if he did what makes more sense and launched from it. La Mountain and Lowe were experinced balloonists, so it makes sense that he wouldn't just say "I need something heavy to tie my balloon too so I guess I'll use a transport." I would have to believe he'd know how to secure it and would just think about using Fanny as a transport and a possible launch platform. Then of course once in the air he could alwasy have Fanny move him about.

But this still brings up the question of why would the George Washington Parke Custis be considered over the Fanny. I finally did what I should have when I posted my question and grabbed some items. Namely I hit Haze Gray and Underway in order to check out DANFS. The DANFS entry says the same about the George Washington Parke Custis as the NavSource (expectedly because NavSource used DANFS) I also grabbed Burke Davis' The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts. Now Davis states that Fanny was the first aircraft carrier, but he then goes on to call the George Washingtion Parke Custis the first true aircraft carrier. He states she was converted to Lowes' design for efficient ascensions.

So that may be the answer. Conversion. AC-3 Jupiter was laid down as a collier in 1911 and served as such until she was decommisioned in 1920 so she could be converted, renamed, and reclassified CV-1 Langley. From the sounds of what you found and what's in Davis' book, it may be a question of being converted to the purpose of carrying and launching aircraft rather than just being used for the purpose. It does seem like Fanny remained a transport where as George Washington Parke Custis was converted from bein a coal barge to the sole purpose of launching and operating observation balloons.

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