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Free Admission
Open Daily 9.30am to 4.30pm

Balloon Busters

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Step into the fly zone! This touch-free interactive game uses motion sensor technology to test your flying skills. Control your aircraft by moving your arms and see how many enemy balloons you can bust!

Location: On the left-hand side as you enter the Aircraft Hall



During World War One (1914-1918), both sides used fixed kite balloons situated just behind the lines to watch enemy positions and troop movements. Special fighter missions were flown to shoot them down, using incendiary bullets and Le Prieur rockets. The unarmed observers in the basket had parachutes to escape when enemy aircraft approached. Heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns, machine guns and fighter aircraft, the danger for the attackers was also increased by the possibility of the highly flammable hydrogen-filled balloons exploding when fired upon at close range.

Discover the true story behind Balloon Busters

Did you know?

Observation balloons, used by both sides during World War One, were flown high above enemy targets. The observer in the balloon would relay vital information to those on the ground. Attacking the balloons was dangerous because they were heavily defended.   

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Captain Rainsford Balcombe-Brown

'Balloon Buster'
In June 1916, Kiwi pilot Rainsford Balcombe-Brown was serving with the British Royal Flying Corps when his squadron was sent to attack German observation balloons. He had volunteered for the mission even though he had no experience flying Nieuport Scout aircraft with Le Prieur rockets. Each of the three ‘balloon buster’ pilots on that mission shot down an enemy balloon. Balcombe-Brown was awarded the Military Cross. In October 1917, Balcombe-Brown, now a Major, was posted to France. On 2 May 1918, he was shot down over the Western Front while in combat with an enemy aircraft. He was the most senior New Zealand airman to lose his life in World War One.
Air Force Museum of New Zealand


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Open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm (except Christmas Day)
Entry to the Museum is free, donations are appreciated.

45 Harvard Ave, Wigram, Christchurch | 03 343 9532

We welcome visitors of all abilities