International Balloon Museum

This is certainly not your average aviation museum. It may even be unique (I can’t recall of ever having heard of another one). The International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque NM celebrates those who fly without wings and without engines. It traces the history of manned balloons, from the first flight by the Montgolfiers to modern hot-air balloons.

Here are some photos from a visit.


The museum


A model of the Montgolfier’s first manned balloon


Commemorative plaque, button, and medals celebrating the Montgolfiers


A model of the first hydrogen-gas balloon, by Jacques Charles


A model of the balloon used by Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries to fly across the English Channel. They barely made it, and had to lighten the load to the extent even of throwing their clothes overboard and landing in their underwear.


Strato-Lab, a balloon used by the US Navy to do high-altitude research


Bomb-release lever from a crashed WW1 German Zeppelin. Zeppelin balloons were the first aerial bombers.


Control room door salvaged from the wreck of the US Navy airship “Shenandoah”


The timing mechanism for a Japanese WW2 “Fugo” balloon bomb. The cylinders are incendiary bombs.


The gondola of the Double Eagle V, the first balloon to cross the Pacific Ocean. The gondola was designed to double as a boat in case the balloon didn’t make it.


Double Eagle V’s canopy


Breitling Orbiter 3, the first balloon to go nonstop around the world


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