Camera, Balloon Recon, HYAC


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

The HYAC (high-acuity) direct-scanning panoramic camera was designed to combine high resolution and a 120 degree wide swath of coverage from high altitudes using 70mm film. In 1958, plastic reconnaissance balloons carryng three HYAC I cameras and other types of cameras were launched for WS461L, a program ostensibly to gather meteorological information but in fact a secret Air Force balloon reconnaissance program over the Soviet Union. As with a similar ill-fated 1956 program, the majority of the balloons fell into Eastern European countries and Soviet hands; the resulting political furor ended the project. This HYAC 1 camera was only used for testing.

Walter Levison of Itek Corp. developed this aerial camera made of fiberglas to reduce radar reflectivity and flown at altitudes of 15,000 to 30,000 meters.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Donated by Lockheed Martin Missile and Space Corporation


Metal, Rubber, Glass, Wires, Phenolic Resin, Leather


  • Approximate: 73.66 x 73.66 x 31.75cm (2ft 5in. x 2ft 5in. x 1ft 1/2in.)
  • Lens 3in diameter, 12in focal length
  • Control box 8in long, 6in wide
  • Film width 2-3/4in

Country of Origin

United States of America

Physical Description

Fiberglass housing and painted black with a f/5 lens.



Inventory Number