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Balloons & Airships

Observation balloon. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Observation balloon. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The OB-1 "Pony Blimp" at Scott Field, Ill., in 1922. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The OB-1 "Pony Blimp" at Scott Field, Ill., in 1922. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Following World War I, the Air Service expanded its lighter-than-air activities. It continued the use of captive observation balloons for several years and began using free balloons and even non-rigid and semi-rigid airships. It participated in numerous balloon races and flew its airships in various field maneuvers, but on June 30, 1937, the Chief of the Air Corps, Maj. Gen. Oscar Westover, was forced to terminate the lighter-than-air program because of the failure of Congress to provide sufficient funding. Three weeks later the U.S. Navy agreed to accept the transfer of the Air Corps' lighter-than-air assets.

Click on the following links to learn more about the Air Service's work with balloons and airships.

Gordon Bennett Balloon Trophy
Roma Tragedy
Flights of Explorer I and II
Fatal Flight of Capt. Gray

Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.

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