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150th anniversary of the post by balloons 2020
The Franco-Prussian war broke out in July 1870 and Paris was besieged on September 19. To escape the grip of hundreds of thousands of Prussians, the Parisians used nearly 67 aerostats or balloons, including the so-called “La Ville d'Orléans”.

The balloon left the Gare du Nord on November 24 at 11:40 pm, with the aeronaut engineer Paul ROLIER at controls and a passenger Léonard BEZIER. They carry 250Kg of dispatches and 6 carrier pigeons. In order to escape the Prussian shooters, they quickly climb several hundred meters in a North/North-West direction. At night, a thick mist sets in and makes them lose direction. Pushed by a north wind, they find themselves flying over the North Sea at a crazy speed. The balloon losing altitude at the risk of a forced landing, ROLIER sacrifices a bag of dispatches of 125 kilos that a Norwegian schooner will recover. All of a sudden, the men go up to almost 5,000 mètres and are driven by an easterly wind.
They are in extreme cold (-30C°). In a desperate move, they try to blow up the balloon filled with highly flammable lighting gas. Luckily, wet matches don’t crack.

The balloon comes down when suddenly the pines tree tops appear under the basket. Without hesitation, the two men jump 25 meters. The balloon regained altitude immediately. ROLIER and BEZIER spent the night in the cold and managed to reach the village of Seljord. Realizing to be in Norway, they will join Christiana (Oslo today). On their way to
France, they will be welcomed as heroes throughout Norway.

The aerostat was found at Lid Mountain, 87 km from where they had fallen. The aeronauts were unaware of this, but this adventure recorded records in distance (1,246 km including 747 over the sea), average speed (84 km/hour) and altitude (nearly
5,000 metres).

The postal bag that had been collected at sea was sent to England through the consular officer in Mandal. The other bags were directed from Christiana on France via London. Among these letters is a letter to the Commander of the Establishments of Oceania – Tahiti,
from Marine headquarter in Paris.

Fare Rata, the Polynesian Post Office, is pleased to share this philatelic adventure on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Post by balloons.

Find your philatelic circular here
Unit price: 580 FCFP (4,86 €)
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