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Gondola, Balloon, Don Piccard

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Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar room at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

On August 17, 1959, balloonist Donald L. Piccard flew this red, white and blue metal balloon basket at a centennial commemoration of John Wise's Jupiter balloon flight from Lafayette, Indiana. The Wise flight was the first time that stamped letters, which had passed through a post office, were flown through the air. On July 19, 1961, Piccard launched from the Fairbault, Minnesota airport and rode the same gondola to an altitude of 34,642 feet, a world record altitude for gas balloons of this class.

Don Piccard, a pioneer of post-war gas and hot air ballooning, and a founder of the Balloon Federation of America, played a critical role in the development and popularization of modern sport ballooning. He is the grandson of August Piccard, the inventor of the pressurized balloon gondola, the bathyscaph for undersea exploration and the first man to enter the stratosphere. His mother and father, Jean and Jeanette Piccard, introduced Americans to high altitude ballooning in the 1930s. His uncle, Jacques Piccard, was one of the first two men to descend to the deepest spot in the world oceans. His cousin, Bertrand Piccard, was one of the first two men to fly a balloon around the world, non-stop.

Collection Item Long Description:

Don Piccard Basket

On August 17, 1959, balloonist Donald L. Piccard flew this red, white and blue balloon basket at a centennial commemoration of John Wise's Jupiter balloon flight from Lafayette, Indiana. The Wise flight was the first time that stamped letters, which had passed through a post office, were flown through the air. On July 19, 1961, Piccard launched from the Fairbault, Minnesota airport and rode the same basket to an altitude of 34,642 feet, a world record altitude for gas balloons of this class.

Don Piccard, a pioneer of post-war gas and hot air ballooning, and a founder of the Balloon Club of America, played a critical role in the development and popularization of modern sport ballooning. He is a nephew of Auguste Piccard -- the inventor of both the pressurized balloon gondola and the bathyscaph for undersea exploration and the first man to enter the stratosphere. Don Piccard's mother and father, Jean and Jeanette Piccard, introduced Americans to high altitude ballooning in the 1930s. His cousin Jacques, Auguste's son, was one of the first two men to descend to the deepest spot in the world oceans. Jacques' son Bertrand Piccard was one of the first two men to fly a balloon around the world, non-stop.

Gift of Donald L. Piccard

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Rights

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

Manufacturer

Donald L. Piccard

Dimensions

25in. long, 25in. wide, 45in. high

See more items in

National Air and Space Museum Collection

Country of Origin

United States of America

Physical Description

25in. long, 25in. wide, 45in. high; red, white and blue painted aluminum; manufactured 195

Type

CRAFT-Balloons & Parts

Inventory Number

A19750124000