National Geographic : 1936 Jan
MAN'S FARTHEST ALOFT 104 103 102 101 100 99 Ded ood t.grgt Ft Pei Pier Wegti. SLad/ eade fowrcFt Pi F bfe t C iail Sticksnony P'r 9h V * anblee' Wod i A Finish I Aca y latR o.i sebud, ' Lake SDrawn by Newman Bumstead EXPLORER II FOLLOWED A SNAKY TRAIL THROUGH THE STRATOSPHERE OVER SOUTH NEBRSKA' The balloon floated at its ceiling, 13.71 miles above sea level, for an hour and 30 minutes. This part of its path lay between Tuthill and Wood. The track of drift indicates that the balloon passed through several different wind layers at varying levels. While it climbed slowly to about 17,000 feet above the Bad Lands, the bag floated southeast; then as the upward ascent to the STATUTE MILES 104 103 LONGITUDE 102 WEST OF 101 GREENWICH 100 99 Drawn by Newman Bumatead "EXPLORER II" FOLLOWED A SNAKY TRAIL THROUGH THE STRATOSPHERE OVER SOUTH DAKOTA The balloon floated at its ceiling, 13.71 miles above sea level, for an hour and 30 minutes. This part of its path lay between Tuthill and Wood. The track of drift indicates that the balloon passed through several different wind layers at varying levels. While it climbed slowly to about 17,000 feet above the Bad Lands, the big bag floated southeast; then as the upward ascent to the stratosphere began, the course changed to the northeast. Upon the descent, it again took a southerly course, but just before the landing it reversed its drift. time to time I drank hastily from a gallon can containing water. Anticipating low temperature, we had put hot water in three cans before the flight, and had wrapped the cans in towels. Plain hot water from a can is not ordinarily anything to rave about, but if one is thirsty enough, it really tastes wonderfully good. Our exertions on the outside of the gon dola, at 16,000 feet, before we closed the hatches, probably did as much as anything to create thirst. I must admit that I fin ished most of a gallon of water, which is quite a lot for one person in the space of a few hours. On the 1934 flight we had a similar experience. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about these flights is the speed with which time passes. An hour seems like 20 min utes! We tried to keep in constant touch with the world below by radio, but there were times when we simply had to take the earphones off in order to concentrate on other duties. From time to time I went the rounds of the various pieces of apparatus, reading meters, adjusting rheostats, listening for the noises that alone would tell whether certain instruments, hidden inside their metal cases, were still operating. Anderson used the radio only when abso lutely necessary, for it took his mind off his most important duty of controlling the balloon. He was a marvel of concentration, and after we had sealed ourselves in, he scarcely moved from a space two feet square. His right hand reached for the ballast releasing device, or for the handles of the valves that fed compressed gas through hoses nearly 400 feet long, and so operated the balloon valves far above us. His left hand held a stop-watch, and his eyes were always on the bubble of the big statoscope, which told us whether we were going up or down, and the supersensitive Kollsman altimeter, which measured our height. Hanging beside these instruments was the condensed altitude table prepared by Dr. W. G. Brombacher, of the Bureau of Standards, showing, subject to temperature corrections, how many thousands of feet corresponded to pressures in millimeters of mercury. TELEPHONED TO AIRPLANES FOR POSITION Navigation was unnecessary. No time was wasted in plotting our progress across the country. Our vertical camera films would tell us that later. We found where we were, at any time, by asking Captain Randolph P. Williams in his airplane in flight far below us, or our base radio sta tion at Rapid City (see text, page 84).