Thursday, March 10, 2011

NSFK Balloon Pilot's Beret

All German aviation organizations came under the control of the NSFK in April 1937. The NSFK was a Nazi Party controlled paramilitary aviation organization that offered aviation training to future airmen of the Luftwaffe (Air Force) and provided the general German public with air education during the Third Reich (1933-1945). 
 This black and gray wool beret is a non-regulation type of headgear worn by a NSFK balloon pilot.  The front badge, constructed from embroidered silver wire on a blue wool backing, consists of a hot-air balloon with a winged swastika superimposed over the envelope portion of the balloon, all enclosed in an oak leaf wreath.  The badge signified a balloon pilot's qualification. 

The size of the beret suggests it was worn by a youth, likely a teenager, that received his balloon pilot's certification and saw fit to adorn this beret with the qualification badge.  In fact, the NSFK intended the badge to be placed on the left breast pocket of the uniform.  With the beret is another balloonist insignia.  This distinct copper pin, stamped by the Swiss company Huguenin Freres, represents the Aero-Club der Schweiz (Aero Club of Switzerland) and includes the initials AeCS on a balloon with a single wing extending to the left.  
The AeCS is a national aviation association still in existence today that has sponsored air sporting events and provided aviation education and training in Switzerland since 1910, including hot-air balloon training.

Photographs ©WHRC

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