in your observation balloon section, you sort of skipped the civil war. Some of the balloonists from the civil war purchased to took some of the surplus balloons to begin careers as exhibition balloonists across America, something to which they later added parachuting to spice up the show as more people become familiar with balloons. The Allen family comes to mind as one of the dynasties following the war.
There;s a working replica of one of the civil war observation balloons at Genessee Country Village in new York. A list of the balloonists for both sides, yankee and confederate, is on a monument at the aviation museum in Richmond Virginia.
The Allen Flying History
So just how long have we been flying?
The Allen's were pioneers in the balloon flying business. The flying originates back to the Civil War.
The two main observation balloonists for the Union Army were Thaddeus Lowe and James Allen. James Allen was distantly related to the three Allen Brothers, Ira, Comfort and Martin. Ira observed the Union Army balloons while serving in the Calvary himself. When the war was over Ira started ballooning with his younger brothers for "recreational fun" and profit.
Ballooning was not the same then as it is now. Certainly not as safe. Balloons were filled with hot air by holding them over a fire. The hot air from the fire filled up the balloon for flying.
Heavy smoke from the fires sealed the porous cotton fabric used for the balloons. These aeronauts did not ride in a basket, they soared aloft hanging from trapeze bars. At altitude they would cut loose and float back down to the ground on their home made parachutes. "The Flying Allens" performed this act for spell bound crowds nationwide.
The next generation included two twin brothers, Edward and Edgar Allen. Edward became the most famous o all the flying Allens by making over 3000 smoke balloon ascensions and parachute jumps, over his 60 year career. He was also a Montgollfier Diploma recipient: the highest ballooning honor given in the world.
Edward's children, Eddie Jr., Gloria and Florence, continued to thrill crowds, from the depression era, until the 1950's.
Eddie Jr.'s son, David continued in his father's footsteps, however not in the traditional smoke filled balloons. Our Pilots prefer to fly modern hot balloons as we know them today.
The rest as they say is history. Enjoy your flight.