On June 6, 2009 Conner Prairie opened the 1859 Balloon Voyage. Visitors can take 15 minute rides in a tethered balloon to a height of 350 feet (110 m). The balloon is filled with 210,000 cubic feet of helium and is 105 feet (32 m) tall, making it the largest tethered gas passenger balloon in the world. The gondola can carry up to about twenty people and the balloon can lift up to 4.5 tons. The ballon was manufactured by the French company Aerophile. There are currently only five of these balloons in the United States.
An educational exhibit accompanies the balloon voyage. The exhibit is a recreation of a Lafayette streetscape and includes several hands-on, interactive elements that teach the historical context and the technology of ballooning. The entire attraction is based on the historic August 17, 1859 trip of Aeronoaut John Wise, where he made the first airmail delivery in the United States 25 miles from Lafayette, Indiana to Crawfordsville, Indiana carrying 123 letters and 23 circulars.
By kjfitz @ 2010-10-27 13:16:09