District Personalities

Feodor A. Postnikov, Balloonist and Esperanto Pioneer (a)


Feodor A. Postnikov served in the Russian military from 1891 to 1905 where he worked on the design and construction of a spherical balloon for locating submerged mines and detecting the movement of enemy ships. During his early military career, he became involved in the study of Esperanto. On a visit to Japan in 1903, he contacted Dr. Hasegawa of Tokyo University whose first book, published in Esperanto in Japan, carried a portrait of F.A. Postnikov with the caption “Father of the Esperanto Movement in Japan.” In 1906, he moved with his family to Berkeley, where he received a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. When a dirigible was launched just east of Berkeley High School in 1911, Postnikov “warned that the mission was suicidal.” He said that “the canvas could not withstand pressure from the tremendous amount of gas and rarified air,” which proved to be the case. The dirigible rose only 150 feet before it plummeted to the ground. Fortunately, no one on the ground or in the dirigible was killed.