1932—The First Manned Balloon Flight to the Stratosphere and First use
of a Pressurized Capsule for a Balloon Flight: On August 18, Auguste
Piccard, a Swiss Scientist, soars into the stratosphere in his balloon, 'FNRS,'
and sets a new altitude record of 52,498 feet. Over the next few years,
altitude records continue to be set, almost monthly, in the push to reach ever
higher into the stratosphere.
1935—New Altitude Record is Set and Remains for 20 Years: Explorer
II, a helium gas balloon, sets the altitude record at 72,395 feet, or 13.7
miles, with two crew members on board. For the first time in history, it is
proven that humans can travel and survive in a pressurized chamber at extremely
high altitudes. This flight sets a milestone for aviation and paves the way
for future space travel and the concept of manned flight in space. The highly
publicized flight is also able to carry live radio broadcasts from the
1960—Altitude Record and Highest Parachute Jump: Air Force Captain
Joe Kittinger jumps from a balloon at 102,800 feet on August 16th and sets a
world high altitude parachute jump and freefall record that still stands today.
1961—Current Official Altitude Record Set: Commander Malcolm Ross
and Lieutenant Commander Victor A. Prather of the U.S. Navy ascend to 113,739.9
feet in 'Lee Lewis Memorial,' a polyethylene balloon. They land in the Gulf of
Mexico where, with his pressure suit filling with water, and unable to stay
afloat, Prather drowns.
1978—First Balloon to Cross the Atlantic: Double Eagle II, a helium
balloon carrying Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman, becomes the
first balloon to cross the Atlantic. A new duration record is set with a
flight time of 137 hours.
1981—First Balloon to Cross the Pacific: Thirteen-story high Double
Eagle V, piloted by Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, Ron Clark and Rocky Aoki of
Japan, launches from Nagashimi, Japan on November 10 and and lands 84 hours, 31
minutes later in Mendocino National Forest in California. A new distance
record is set at 5,768 miles.
1984—First Solo Transatlantic Balloon Flight: Joe Kittinger
flies 3,535 miles from Caribou, Maine to Savona, Italy in his helium-filled
balloon 'Rosie O'Grady's Balloon of Peace.'
1987—First Hot Air Balloon to Cross the Atlantic: Per Lindstrand and
Richard Branson fly a distance of 2,900 miles in 33 hours and set a new record
for hot air ballooning. The balloon, at the time, is the largest ever flown at
2.3 million cubic feet of capacity.
1988—Hot Air High Altitude Record: Per Lindstrand sets a solo world
record of 65,000 feet for the greatest height ever reached by a hot air
1991—First Hot Air Balloon to Cross the Pacific: Per Lindstrand and
Richard Branson become the first to traverse the Pacific by hot air balloon,
reaching speeds in the jet stream of up to 245 mph, in their 'Otsuka Flyer,'
which travels 6,700 miles in 46 hours. They fly from Japan to Arctic Canada
and break the world distance record.
1992—Duration Record Set: Richard Abruzzo, son of previous
record-breaker Ben Abruzzo, and Troy Bradley, now currently making his own
around-the-world bid with his 'Odyssey' project, fly 144 hours, 16 minutes from
Bangor, Maine to Morocco in a De Rozier balloon.
1995—First Solo Transpacific Balloon Flight: February 14-17, Steve
Fossett, another around-the-world contender with his Solo Challenger project,
launches from Seoul, Korea and flies 4 long days to Mendham, Saskatchawan,
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