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Postcard depicting a Parseval-Sigsfeld kite-balloon and Belgian Army personnel in WWI.

During the trench warfare on the Western Front, both sides used tethered observation balloons, or "aerostats", large enough to carry two observers in a basket. Spherical tethered balloons could be used only in very calm weather, otherwise they would bob to and fro. Already in 1893, to remedy this instability, August PARSEVAL and Rudolf Hans Bartsch SIGSFELD of the Prussian Balloon Battalion in Berlin developed a cylindrical, aerodynamic balloon with a tail-like extention. While the elogated shape reduced swaying, the "tail" added steadiness and kept the balloon headed into the wind. Since these balloons behaved like a kite, they became known as Drachenballonen or "kite balloons" (the German word "Drachen" meaning "kite"). The balloons could reach altitudes between 1,000 and 2,000 m (3,250 and 6,500 feet).

Our special thanks to Frits VAN DER VELDT for providing us with this rare document.