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The National Geographic Society-U. S. Army Air Corps Stratosphere Flight of 1934 in the Balloon "Explorer"; Contributed Technical Papers, Stratosphere Series, Number 1

National Geographic Society

Published by National Geographic Society, Washington DC, 1935
Condition: good Soft cover
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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Various paginations (approximately 120 pages). Illustrations. Some soiling and some edge wear to covers. The Table of Contents lists fourteen entries, including a reprint from an article in the National Geographic Magazine of October 1934. Extracted from an article posted on-line. During 1933, United States Army Air Corps Captain Albert W. Stevens began pressing his superiors to mount a stratosphere expedition using a balloon. He turned to the one organization he felt would have both the willingness and means to support such an undertaking - the National Geographic Society. Stevens presented the flight as an opportunity to loft a fully equipped scientific laboratory for the study of high altitude photography techniques, properties of the upper atmosphere and cosmic radiation. It would also establish a new altitude record, perhaps as high as 75,000 feet. Society President Gilbert Grosvenor embraced the expedition and provided most of the financial support. Other supporters for the flight included United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, Eastman Kodak Research Laboratory, Fairchild Aviation Corporation, and the Sperry Gyroscope Company. Stevens even donated several thousand dollars of his own money to support the flight. The Army Air Corps appointed a three-man crew: Major William E. Kepner, pilot; First Lieutenant Orvil A. Anderson, alternate pilot; and Captain Stevens as scientific observer. When the expedition was first announced to Society members in the April 1934 issue of The National Geographic Magazine, the crew comprised Kepner and Stevens. Anderson subsequently became a full-fledged member of the flight crew, going from alternate to co-pilot. (He was also promoted to the rank of Captain.) The initial announcement indicated the flight would occur in June, with a follow-up flight in September to "check observations under similar conditions." Officially named The National Geographic - Army Air Corps Stratosphere Expedition, it is generally known by the name Explorer. To reach the desired altitude, Explorer needed a truly gigantic balloon; one with a volume of 3 million cubic feet. The Goodyear-Zeppelin Company assembled the balloon in Akron, Ohio. A little past dusk, the ground crew began inflating the balloon, a process that took six hours. As with much of the preliminary work, Anderson directed the crews while they piped hydrogen to the balloon through a series of canvas tubes. By two o'clock in the morning, the inflation was complete. The balloon held 210,000 cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen gas. As the Explorer ascended, the hydrogen would expand and fully inflate the 3,000,000 cubic foot envelope at 65,000 feet. An hour later the balloon reached the 60,000-foot level. So far, everything was going according to plan. Kepner and Anderson controlled the balloon while Stevens transmitted instrument readings to the ground. The Geiger counters sounded like "many typewriters in a newspaper office" or "like a flock of chickens pecking grain from a metal pan." Inside the gondola, it was 42 Fahrenheit despite an outside temperature of 80 degrees below zero. Suddenly there was a clattering on the top of the gondola. Examination soon showed why the rope fell - there was a large rip in the base of the balloon! They clipped their emergency parachutes to the harnesses. Working quickly, they opened the hatch and climbed on top of the gondola to inspect the balloon. Large tears appeared in the lower part. Suddenly the entire bottom of the bag dropped out. What had been a balloon became a parachute filled with a mixture of hydrogen and air. Barely half a mile above the ground they abandoned the craft, relying on their personal parachutes for landing. All three pilots landed shaken but safe. Although everyone expected the film records to be ruined, photographic technicians developed them anyway. When they did this, they discovered that most of the film recordings of the instruments and ground miraculously survived. Of 200 expo. Bookseller Inventory # 72692

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The National Geographic Society-U. S. Army ...

Publisher: National Geographic Society, Washington DC

Publication Date: 1935

Binding: Wraps

Book Condition: good

Edition: 1st Edition

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