Friday, April 8, 2011

The RAAF's Balloons

My good friend Brett mentioned in his RAAF birthday blog post here on Airminded that on the formation of the RAAF in 1921:
"Interestingly, among the usual propeller makers, cooks, machinists and so on, the RAAF declared that it had need of airship riggers and balloon basket makers. As far as I know, the RAAF never operated any airships (or balloons), but I would guess the idea would have been to use them for maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare."

Certainly the RAAF never operated airships or balloons for warlike purposes back in the inter-war period, but while at the Antiquers airshow and fly in at Echuca last weekend, I bumped into a current RAAF balloon airman - who is one of the crew operating the RAAF's balloons. Details of the balloons, and their (recent) history is here. Serendipity!

As to the 1921 recruits, I'm sure anyone actually taken on for balloon work would have just found out that the old military axiom - 'If you can't take the joke you shouldn't have joined' certainly applied. However while hot air balloon canopies and power has certainly changed in materials since 1921 (if not principle) baskets are still woven from natural materials. So the (very old) basket maker would have a job.


  1. Being a balloonatic myself, I had a lot of fun interviewing SQNLDR Phil O'Donnell at Avalon this year ( Phil & the other RAAF balloon pilots & crew are currently at the Australian National Ballooning Championships in Canowindra flying in the fiesta component & doing tethers.

  2. Hello friend want to do a link exchange with your blog since this was the first I found, much to the tou are looking for a blog from Australia.
    I am connected to various parts of the world!

    I am using a translator because they do not know if I write something wrong, excuse weight

    was awaiting their response

    paulo olim
    Wooden Wings

  3. This post is an very interesting insight into Ballooning! The RAAF ballooning is not as recognised as people may think, which is unfortunate.
    I thoroughly enjoyed my Balloon experience and would recommend to anyone interested.