Up and away at Conner Prairie

May 5, 2009
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Conner Prairie balloon rideLooks like the folks at Conner Prairie in Fishers have beat White River State Park to the hot-air-balloon-ride punch. They plan to unveil a tethered balloon ride tonight as part of a $2.2-million exhibit called 1859 Balloon Voyage. The exhibit "will tell the remarkable story of how the first successful delivery of air mail via balloon happened to occur in Indiana,� Conner Prairie CEO Ellen M. Rosenthal said in a statement. “Our exhibit will, in the Conner Prairie way, be based on painstaking historic research, some of which was conducted in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute. It will place visitors at Courthouse Square in Lafayette in 1859 as the balloon rises" up to 350 feet into the air. The balloon even has a sponsor, locally based Ricker Oil Company, which is putting the logos for its BP and am/pm convenience stores on the balloon. It opens to the public on June 6. Need a refresher on the balloon plans for downtown Indianapolis? Check here.
  • Sweet! That looks like fun.

    By forming a pattern on the balloon, the logos look nicer than they should. Someone knows what's up. Um, no pun intended. :-)
  • So.....based on their painstaking historic research they discovered that the air mail delivery balloon in 1859 had corporate logos plastered on it?
  • Define irony - oil....the fuel that revolutionized air travel and killed the hot air balloon industry as the sponsor. :)

    Nevertheless, looks like a a pretty sweet ride with a nice nostalgic feel.
  • LOL, Eric.... you are just kidding about oil killing the balloon industry? It wouldn't have anything to do with complete and utter inefficiency as a means of travel would it?
  • It may not have killed the balloon industry, but big oil is certainly going to kill the aesthetics of the whole ride.

    p.s. the price for a ride is a bit inflated as well...15 smackers from what I've heard.
  • Hello,

    Thanks for the feedback! The price of the balloon voyage with a $5 discount coupon from our sponsor, Ricker Oil, will be $10 for non-members and $7 for members. Coupons are available at participating BP am/pm store locations in central Indiana. This is a wonderful model of good corporate citizenship during these difficult economic times!
  • Hydrogen killed balloon travel. Even though US dirgibles used helium, the disaster of the Hindenburg, coupled with the destruction in storms of the Akron and Macon, ended public faith in balloon travel.

    Of course it may be coming back. Right now they are designing heavy lifting dirgibles to carry large loads through the air, kind of like air born barges. Some small scale passenger dirgibles are being used, and there are thoughts of making large scale luxury dirgibles for long distance travel.
  • Indyman -

    thanks for the history lesson on dirgibles. I admit I had to wikepedia it. An air bound barge sounds safer....no pirates!

    Still looking foward to the balloon ride....haven't been on one of these since I was a kid. CP - thanks for the tip on coupons.
  • Great minds think alike, Kevin F. While I understand the need for sponsorship and commend Ricker for its generosity, I wish Conner Prairie's leaders would have kept their integrity and found a more subtle and historically accurate way to display it. Shameful, really.
  • Carl Fisher who built IMS did a publicity stunt with a balloon that was pretty good. Here is a cut out of his Wikipedia entry:

    Fisher staged an elaborate publicity stunt in which he attached a hot air balloon to a white Stoddard-Dayton automobile and flew the car over downtown Indianapolis. Thousands of people observed the spectacle and Fisher triumphantly drove back into town, becoming an instant media sensation. Unbeknown to the public, the flying car had its engine removed to lighten the load, and several identical cars were driven out to meet it, to allow Fisher to drive back into the city. Afterwards, he advertised, The Stoddard-Dayton was the first automobile to fly over Indianapolis. It should be your first automobile too. Another stunt involved pushing a car off the roof of a building and then driving it away, to demonstrate its durability.

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  1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  2. If you only knew....

  3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

  4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

  5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.