Observation Balloon Training at Fort Omaha

Observation Balloon Training at Fort Omaha (HM13GA)

Location: Omaha, NE 68111 Douglas County
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Country: United States of America
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N 41° 18.601', W 95° 57.458'

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Fort Omaha Walking Tour

After nine years of inactivity, Fort Omaha reopened in 1905 as a school for noncommissioned Signal Corps officers. A structure to house the army's only dirigible (balloon airship) was completed in 1908, and the first dirigible flew in April 1909. Four years later all personnel and property were transferred to Fort Leavenworth.

Under threat of world war, Fort Omaha was reactivated in 1916 to house a Balloon School led by Captain Charles Chandler. In 1919 Florence Field, 119 acres about one-and-a-half miles north of here, was acquired for a subpost to provide space for more balloons.

Balloon training demanded many hours of map reading, charting enemy installations and troop movements, and refining methods to relay information. A telephone line from the balloon's basket connected observers to an extensive switchboard system. Using a code, balloonists could direct artillery battery toward enemy installations. Even though a fixed balloon was a prime target itself, 16,000 men enthusiastically trained at Fort Omaha during World War I.

Because photoreconnaissance by airplane was still awkward and inaccurate, many types of observation balloons were tested at Fort Omaha. The Caquot, the best of the "captive" (stationary) balloons, was shaped like a sausage, with tail fins to stabilize direction and a network of cables for tethering to the ground.
HM NumberHM13GA
Marker Number5
Placed ByMetropolitan Community College, Historical Society of Douglas County, and Nebraska Committee for the Humanities
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 3:47pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 252413 N 4577393
Decimal Degrees41.31001667, -95.95763333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 18.601', W 95° 57.458'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 18' 36.06" N, 95° 57' 27.48" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)402
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4915-5165 North Rd, Omaha NE 68111, US
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