SALLY SANTORA | For the County News
Hot Air Heritage
History aloft at the Genesee Country Museum
After months of anticipation, the Genesee County Village and Museum’s one-of-a-kind replica Civil War balloon, The Intrepid, took to the sky. The media was invited to attend the first lift-off of the Intrepid on July 3.
The Intrepid opened to the public on July 4 as part of the village’s Independence Day festivities, however, winds kept the balloon tethered in the south lot. Dozens of visitors enjoyed viewing the balloon and learning about the role of gas powered balloons during the Civil War era.
When GCV President Peter Arnold learned that gas powered balloons played a significant role in the Civil War, he launched his idea to build the world’s first ever replica balloon and make it part of the living history village in Mumford.
With only a few companies in the country that build balloons of this type, GCV enlisted Aeroballon, Inc. of Hingham, Massachusetts to build the Intrepid, along with historical guidance from the village and several other experts.
The balloon was assembled in pieces at various locations across the country and then brought to Mumford to be assembled at the museum. Workers were trained in how to operate the balloon. The Intrepid measures an impressive 44 feet in diameter and including the basket, is 72 feet tall and can be seen from as far away as 25 miles.
The Intrepid was nearly grounded entirely for this season when a nationwide helium shortage threatened its launch, which museum officials scheduled for this summer, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Macy’s, with its flagship store in New York City and smaller stores throughout the area, learned of the problem facing GCV and came forward with a donation of helium. Macy’s sponsors the well-known Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan where dozens of helium balloons thrill spectators.
Visitors can purchase tickets ($15) for a ride 300 feet into the air in the Intrepid, however weather conditions determine whether the balloon is flying or not.
Winds above 12 – 15 miles per hour will more than likely keep the Intrepid tethered to the ground, though visitors can still see the balloon up close and learn about its historical significance.
You can know for sure if the Intrepid is flying by visiting the GCV website.