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Up, Up, and Away

From their early beginnings, balloons soon soared to great heights. They became useful tools in the fields of art, science, and reconnaissance.



Moby Dick Reconnaissance Balloon

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In 1956, more than 500 plastic reconnaissance balloons were launched for a program called Moby Dick. Ostensibly to gather meteorological information, the balloons were actually equipped with cameras to photograph Soviet territory. The balloons merely floated with the winds and were retrieved after passing beyond Soviet borders. Only 44 were successfully recovered.
Courtesy of Defense Visual Information Center

Skyhook Camera

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Skyhook panoramic cameras were flown on balloon reconnaissance missions very similar to those of the Moby Dick program.



Explorer II High Altitude Balloon

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The Explorer II balloon was designed to study conditions in the highest reaches of the atmosphere. It was flown in 1935 and carried Capt. Albert W. Stevens and Capt. Orvil A. Anderson higher than anyone had ever flown before. Sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the U.S. Army Air Corps, Explorer II rose to 72,395 feet, a world altitude record which held for 20 years.
Courtesy of the Lee Wells Collection




Balloon and blimp photography have a lighter side as well. The Goodyear Blimp provided these unique views of familiar places and events.
Photographs courtesy Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company

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The Olympic stadium in Los Angeles, CA.
Photograph by Jim Dexter

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Skyscrapers in Detroit, MI.
Photograph by Jim Dexter

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Night game at Dodger Stadium.



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