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ECWG Dinner: Mr. Lincoln’s Air Force, Its Aircraft and the First Flat-Top Aircraft Carrier by Dr. James Green, Tom Crouch, & Curt Westergard

April 13 @ 6:00 pm - 9:30 pm


Explorers Club Members, Associates/Friends & Members’ Guests, and Non-Members’ Guest List are cordially invited to are cordially invited to the April 2019 ECWG dinner meeting at the Cosmos Club, with an after-dinner presentation by The Civil War Balloon Enthusiasts, led by James Green. The presentation will involve more than one speaker and will include theatrical aspects.

About the Presentation

Mr. Lincoln’s Air Force, Its Aircraft and the First Flat-Top Aircraft Carrier At the outbreak of the Civil War, newspaper articles across the land literally pleaded with the government to employ tethered surveillance balloons as weapons of war. Even before 1st Manassas “aeronauts” joined units or just came to Washington DC to volunteer for service. One such aeronaut, Professor Thaddeus Lowe, distinguished himself on the National Mall, getting President Lincoln’s attention long enough to prove that he and his tethered balloon could contribute to the Union Army’s efforts to gather actionable aerial intelligence. Lowe’s hard work paid off and he became Chief Aeronaut of the Balloon Corps. Once operational, the Balloon Corps grew to seven government balloons and the building of the nation’s first aircraft carrier. Lowe spread these balloons along the Maryland-DC border with Virginia thereby providing observations of Confederate troop movements to Union military leaders. As a visible alarm-system in the event of a Rebel invasion of Washington, Lincoln’s “Air Corps” was one element of his strategy to calm public fears and create our nation’s 1st Air Force. Lowe’s Balloon Corps would fly more than 3,000 times for reconnaissance, map-making, artillery-spotting, and was aloft during many battles in 1862 and 1863. It was disbanded just before Gettysburg. Join us for this interactive presentation of the aerial technology of the American Civil War.

See: https://www.airphotoslive.com/EdwardsFerry_780ft/tour.html

About Our Speakers

Dr. James (Jim) Green, the leader of The Civil War Balloon Enthusiasts, is NASA’s Chief Scientist. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Iowa in 1979. He has worked at NASA for over 35 years, managing and participating in a number of NASA solar system missions. Although his day job involves NASA activities, he has long had a passionate personal interest in the history of the Civil War, particularly ballooning. For more than 25 years Jim has conducted research into Civil War balloon use and has spoken at a number of events including the 150th Anniversary of Lowe’s first tethered balloon ascension above the Washington DC Mall, from which the first aerial telegram was sent. He served as an advisor on the Intrepid project, an initiative to construct and fly the world’s first replica of a Civil War manned-balloon at the Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, New York. He also worked with the Civil War Trust by identifying locations of the balloon stations during the Peninsula Campaign for historic preservation or commemoration.

Tom Crouch is Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. A Smithsonian employee since 1974, he has held a variety of curatorial and administrative posts at both the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. He holds a BA from Ohio University, an MA from Miami University and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. In 2001, Wright State University awarded Dr. Crouch the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. He is the author or editor of more than fifteen books and dozens of articles for both popular magazines and scholarly journals, mostly on topics related to the history of flight technology. He is the recipient of several literary and professional awards and honors, including a Christopher Award for The Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Eagle Aloft: Two Centuries of the Balloon in America was selected as best book of the year by the Aerospace Writers Association and was the official book of the Bicentennial of the Balloon celebration. His book, Wings: A History of the Airplane from Kites to the Space Age was awarded the AIAA Gardner-Laser Prize as best book of the year, He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. As a Presidential appointee, 2000-2004, Dr. Crouch chaired the First Flight Federal Advisory Board to the First Flight Centennial Commission.

Curt Westergard MN ’09 is an inventor and builder of aerial platforms used for scientific research, aerial surveillance and city planning applications. As a licensed landscape architect (Cornell University: MLA ’82) he focuses on seeing patterns in the landscape, usually from elevated vantage points. Notable projects include exploring the panoramic views from the World Trade Center’s design. His firm also co-produced the WTC’s Observation Deck time-lapse visuals. Because his firm utilizes tethered aerostat balloons, it has been granted blanket airspace waivers to collect scientific RF, infrared and meteorological data up to 900 feet over DC’s ‘no flight zone’. His unbiased crowd counts of protests and marches on the National Mall have been featured in the NY Times (Year from Above), Wall Street Journal, CBS News and many worldwide media companies. The firm’s commercial and security-related drone monitoring R&D work is inspired by the many historic milestones in the lighter-than-air industry.


  • Asparagus salad
  • Veal Marsala & vegetables
  • Flourless chocolate cake.

Buy Tickets

Buy Using a Check

Please include the following information:

  • Number of seats Reserved ($55 each)
  • Guest names(s)
  • Number of vegetarian meals (if any) desired
  • Organization Affiliation if other than ECWG

Mail with check to :

Jason Chang
1340 Fairmont St. NW, Apt. 1
Washington, DC 20009

No cancellations accepted after Tuesday  COB, 9 April 2019


April 13
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm


Jason Chang


The Cosmos Club
2121 Massachusetts Ave NW,
Washington DC, 20008 United States
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(202) 387-7783