At exactly 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 28th, a postal balloon took off from the?
At exactly 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 28th, a postal balloon took off from the Champs de Mars in the shadow of Paris' Eiffel Tower--on a nostalgic trip which commemorates to the minute the ascent from that spot one hundred years ago of the last balloon to carry mail out of Paris during the Prussian siege of the French capital.
Commemorative cards and symbolic post bags were handed to the aeronauts, the Comte de Saint Sauveur and Mr. John Willys, before the ascent of the 600 cubic-metre balloon "Phoebus" belonging to the Aerostatic Club of France.
The occasion recalled the historic events of the Franco-Prussian War when balloons, carrier pigeons and other means of communications were used by the resourceful Parisians to beat the Prussian besiegers who surrounded Paris from September 1870. Until the January 28, 1871, ascent of the balloon "General Cambronne"--67 balloons carried out 2,500,000 letters and many important couriers on important missions.
The only difference between the "General Cambronne" of 1871 and the "Phoebus" of 1971 is that the latter carries a two-way radio with which the fliers can keep in cons that touch with the control tower at Orly import during their 200-kilometre (124-mile) flight into Eastern France.