Balloon mail refers to the transport of mail (usually for weight reasons in the form of a postcard) carrying the name of the sender by means of an unguided hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...
. Since the balloon is not controllable, the delivery of a balloon mail is left to good fortune; often the balloon and postcard are lost. A found balloon should be returned to the sender (by conventional post) with an indication of the discovery site, so that the sender can determine how far their balloon flew. Frequently balloon mail is sent as part of a balloon competition
A balloon release occurs when a number of hydrogen or helium-filled balloons are allowed to float into the sky together, or in rapid succession...
Historically, balloons were used to transport mail from Paris during the Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...
of 1870-72. Sixty-five unguided mail balloons were released in besieged Paris to communicate with the world beyond the besieging forces, of which only two went missing. The French term ballon monté means the balloon was manned while ballon non-monté meant unmanned. Balloon mail was also sent from Przmyśl, Poland, (near the Ukrainian border) during World War I.
Balloon mail has been used for spreading information and propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....
materials, in particular for spreading propaganda to the population in countries with dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...
ial governments. A balloon can be released from outside the sphere of influence of these governments and, wind permitting, can travel several hundred kilometers. This method of balloon mail has been used by private activists to distribute leaflets to North Koreans discussing the health of their leader, Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...