Gary Brammer, one of our volunteers, is back this month with another edition of “From Our Main Gallery”.

“This month my topic is focused on the Japanese paper balloon bombs of World War II. Our exhibit shows what is left from one of these balloons. #1

 

 

 

 

They were amazing in their design, structure and execution of tasking.

#2#3

 

 

#4Even before the allies discovered the high altitude winds that we now know as the ‘jet stream ‘, the Japanese scientists had knowledge of it and designed these balloons to take advantage of it.

 

 
#5There are still many of these bombs in the forests of the northwest U.S.and Canada’s west coast, laying in wait for the unsuspecting person to find it and pick it up.  This map shows the sites of some that were found but we know there are more out there. Approximately 30yrs ago a family were on their summer holidays when dad stopped to let the kids stretch their legs. They and mum went into the trees a short distance when dad heard one of them shout “come and see what I have found”, very shortly followed by a large explosion that wiped out his family.

This brings me to the real topic for this month, the terrible legacy of war. When the combatants all go home they never clean up everything. Even today we have casualties from WW II happening. In North Africa there are still thousands of mines laying where they were placed and still killing and maiming the nomadic people of the area.

In Cambodia, Serbia and Croatia and so many more places around the world it’s the same thing. In the oceans of the world there are ships filled with oil, ammunitions and fuel just waiting to spill.

The balloons were ingenious but tactically they didn’t give the desired results. The government, once it learned of these things, put a ban on any news of them. This was to stop the fear and any useful propaganda that might have been derived from the attacks. They were beautifully simple and yet beautifully terrifying because you never heard them arrive or know where they would fall. And because of the publicity ban you had no knowledge of their existence either.

I hope that as you look at our exhibits they will make you want to learn more and then ask questions. Most important to me is that you have fun when you come to visit us. I always learned more when I was having fun. Looking at our balloon may not seem to be a fun thing to do but just as an example, some people enjoy a mystery. So as I mentioned, the Japanese knew of the jet stream.  Some questions you may think of might be; when and how did the allies discover the existence of these winds, did it help or hinder them? From there the questions keep coming. Enjoy the story and the search and of course keep having fun, there’s no better place than our museum and air park to bring the young and old this summer. Waiting to see you!!!”

Gary volunteers on Tuesday mornings.  Come in and meet him!