Balloon Mail takes flight at Balloon Fiesta
Long before the Wright brothers invented the airplane and the U.S. Post Office came up with the idea of Air Mail, people were sending mail by balloon. In 1859, a professional balloonist John Wise attempted a “transcontinental voyage” from Indiana to New York. He was carrying a bag of mail with 123 letters on board. The flight lasted just 5 hours and ended about 30 miles away. Not quite transcontinental. In 1870, there are numerous documented balloon flights that carried mail out of Paris when it was under siege.
Aviation has long embraced this method of documentation. Having an “official” agency put a dated stamp on a document provides some level of authenticity to at least the timing of the document.
A number of years ago, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta added Balloon Mail to the event. People bought a postcard at Balloon Fiesta, wrote a note, addressed it, and deposited it in a special mailbox on the field. The mail was then distributed to different balloon pilots who flew the mail in their balloon that day, signed the envelope and gave it to the post office for delivery. As we celebrate 50 years of Balloon Fiesta, we thought it would be fun to bring this activity back. And so we did!
Here’s how it works.
First you purchase our Balloon Mail stationery kit, either online or on the field during Balloon Fiesta. It contains, an envelope, paper, instructions and a Balloon Mail pin. Then write your letter, address the envelope and return it to us. For online purchases, we’ll include a postage paid envelope to return your envelopes to us. The kit will be available for purchase online until Sept 15 and envelopes must be returned to us by Sept 30 in order to be flown during Balloon Fiesta.
For those kits purchased on the field during Balloon Fiesta, you’ll return the addressed envelopes to the purchase location.
When you return the addressed envelopes to us, we’ll add postage, have a hot air balloon pilot fly and document the flight on the envelope and then deliver it to the post office for a special cancelation and delivery to the addressee.
It’s a great way to commemorate and document the 50th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.