View single post by Texas Defender
 Posted: Fri Aug 20th, 2010 02:24 pm
 PM  Quote  Reply  Full Topic 
Texas Defender

Joined: Sat Jan 27th, 2007
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 920

  back to top


  We're in agreement that the argument for the CUSTIS being the "First aircraft carrier" was probably that the barge was CONVERTED so that its main purpose was to launch balloons. Whether that is a valid argument or not, I suppose, is a matter of opinion.

  As for the flight of John LaMountain's balloon from the FANNY, the question you advance is whether  LaMountain launched from the FANNY or from somewhere else.

  To me, it seems much more reasonable that the balloon was launched from the stern of the FANNY than from elsewhere. (It possibly could have been inflated elsewhere and then tied down on the stern of the ship, but that to me is doubtful.). I can't imagine LaMountain being launched elsewhere and flying over the FANNY, dropping a line, and saying: "Tie this to your boat." I have read that LaMountain ascended as high as 2000 feet that day, and it seems logical that he was originally tethered to the FANNY.

  To support this position, I would point out on the "L"  page of : "Whos Who in Ballooning,"when you look at the entry for John LaMountain, it says for 03August 1861:

Who's Who of Ballooning - Index

  "Epic Ascent 3Aug.1861 from the deck of a MOVING SHIP (USS FANNY) on  the Potomac River, Opposite the Washington capital."

  If you look at the Fiddler'sGreen site in the section: "Balloons Go to War," it says of LaMountain:

Lowe Civil War Balloon | Aircraft | 3 FREE MODELS when you sign up with Fiddlersgreen

  "A week later, he took his balloon on the armed transport FANNY on a sortie up the James River." That to me indicates that the balloon (Whether inflated or not) was tethered to the FANNY initially.

  Its interesting to read how LaMountain used the prevailing winds at ground level and higher to go west and east to fly over Confederate lines and return safely by ascending to higher altitudes. He was a very brave man. If captured, he probably would have been executed.

  Both John LaMountain and Thaddeus Lowe were eccentric characters. Apparently, Lowe had better backers and more friends in high places, and LaMountain was even more difficult to get along with, so their feud was finally settled by General McClellan, who dismissed LaMountain in 1862. Nevertheless, in my view, to dismiss John LaMountain's flights from the FANNY on 03August 1861 and call the CUSTIS the: "First aircraft carrier" is to deny him his rightful place in history.


Last edited on Fri Aug 20th, 2010 02:53 pm by Texas Defender

 Close Window