Mr. Lincoln’s Air Force: Top 10 Reasons to visit the Museum on June 11th

Posted on Mon, May 23, 2011
  • by: Emily Kotecki

How do the National Air and Space Museum and the Civil War intersect?  Come find out as we tell the story of the Union Balloon Corps  founded in June 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln. 150 years ago next month Thaddeus Lowe demonstrated ballooning to President Lincoln on a spot just north from where the Museum now stands on the National Mall. The Civil War themed family day for all ages, called Mr. Lincoln’s Air Force, will take place Saturday June 11th, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There are possibly 101 reasons to come to the family day, but here are the top ten:

10. Learn about the Union Balloon Corps because it would be a great conversation starter at your next summer picnic.

Thaddeus Lowe

Thaddeus Lowe's balloon, the <em>Intrepid</em>, being inflated at Fair Oaks, Virginia, May 1862

9. Experience what D.C. was like in 1861 through amazing photographs and walking tours with National Park Service Rangers.

8. Learn how Civil War ballooning impacted the future of espionage techniques.


7. Build your own balloon replica from strawberry baskets, pipe cleaners, and paper plates.

6. Indulge your inner-Civil War buff, pull out the Union soldier costume that you’ve never been able to wear, until now.

5. Design and construct your own binoculars and see a pair actually used by Thaddeus Lowe.

4. Meet "Abraham Lincoln" and ask him all those questions you’ve been meaning to ask since you read Team of Rivals.

3. Meet author Gail Jarrow who will be signing her book, Lincoln’s Flying Spies: Thaddeus Lowe and the Civil War Balloon Corps.

2. Talk with "Thaddeus Lowe" and members of his Balloon Corps and find out how balloons managed to stay aloft during battles.


Thaddeus Lowe

Aeronaut Thaddeus S.C. Lowe


1. See a massive balloon inflated on the National Mall. It probably won’t happen again for another 150 years so make sure you see it on June 11th