National Geographic : 1936 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ,MAGAZINE Photograph by Richard H. Stewart THE TWO HIGHEST-FLYING HUMANS CLIMB ABOARD FOR A RECORD SKY RIDE Captain Stevens and Captain Anderson, in flying suits and parachute harness, are getting ready for the "weighing off," which immediately precedes the actual take-off. The balloon at this stage is held to earth only by its load and the short ropes shown extending outward from the gondola top. In weighing off, these ropes are slackened to see whether the balloon lifts its load properly. Still in place beneath the car is its wheeled platform. The nine bags strung above the open porthole contain para chutes on which heavy equipment later was floated to earth as the balloon came down, in order to lighten its weight. Hanging around the bottom are the forty 75-pound bags of lead dust which served as ballast. On top are the 80-foot parachute (right) designed to break the gondola's fall in case of emergency, and the padded bottom of the spectrograph (see page 90). The first thing to do was to let down the official meteorograph. This we lowered 33 feet below the bottom of the gondola, in compliance with the new regulations of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. This instrument, on its smoked drum ro tated by clockwork, recorded air pressure, instrument temperature, and the tempera ture of the air outside the instrument. These three things are needed properly to calculate altitude by the pressure method. The next thing to do was to let down the Dowmetal tube carrying the electrical ther mometer resistance element and the fan for rotating the balloon. This operation re- quired about a minute, and it was necessary to wrap an arm and a leg in the rigging to resist the weight of the device as it came into position. The other operations required to put the ropes, hoses, and cords surrounding the gon dola in order required little manual effort. Unnecessary dangling ropes were cut away and empty ballast bags were discarded. A check was made of the outside ballast that had been used and of the number of sacks remaining. As I called off the figures, Cap tain Anderson crossed the numbers of the used sacks from the numerals on the switch within the gondola.