April 19, 1861

On April 19, 1861 Professor Thaddeus S.C. Lowe completed a test flight of a hot air balloon that he was going to try and use to make a transatlantic attempt. He sailed 900 miles in nine hours from Cincinnati, Ohio to Unionville, South Carolina. He averaged 100 miles an hour and was very happy with his speed. Unfortunately, he was very unhappy with his direction as he’d hoped to travel due east and land somewhere north of Virginia, as Virginia had recently seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861. When his balloon touched ground Thaddeus Lowe was arrested by Confederate soldiers on April 19, 1861 and put under house arrest for being a Yankee spy. Fortunately for him, he was quickly allowed to return to his home after he’d established his identity as a ‘Man of Science’. Apparently at the beginning of the Civil War, before any real killings had commenced, ‘Men of Science’ were given a special disposition by both sides as they carried out their crazy experiments. To be fair, at the time, seeing a man coming floating in a large balloon several dozens of feet in the air towards you and yelling at you to catch his rope and secure his air-vessel to the ground, was considered at the least to be … eccentric. And eccentricity is an identifying trait of all ‘Men of Science’.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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