National Geographic : 1936 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE side of the gondola, we could fly the same balloon, with the same load of scientific apparatus, to at least 78,000 feet. However, no plans for another flight exist at this time. It is necessary first to make a study of the scientific data obtained to determine whether another flight to a greater altitude would be justified. If in the future it should be desirable to take instruments to a still higher alti tude-possibly to 95,000 feet-this may be made possible by constructing a some what larger balloon with an envelope of rubberized silk instead of rubberized cotton, thereby reducing the weight of the bag forty per cent. It is problematical whether a much larger balloon than the ExplorerII should be built, because of the difficulties of handling and inflating, the increasing cost and the decreas ing factor of safety. Furthermore, there are few places in the world where it is safe to inflate such huge bags, for they tower into the air until they encounter strong air cur rents unless protected by a wall such as that of the natural bowl at Rapid City. Our meteorologists have found, from a study of data of several years past, that even on nights when there is a dead calm on the ground, there is, in open country, al most always a wind of six to eight miles an hour at 300 feet. It is evident that infla tion of these very lofty bags in the open is a far more hazardous problem than infla tion of smaller balloons. We should keep in mind that these strato sphere balloons come down with the gas, which filled them at high altitude, squeezed into a relatively tiny ball in the top of the envelope. A comparatively small area of the top then bears the total weight of the envelope and the gondola, and a portion of the top must be made stronger to prevent it from bursting or tearing. As we go higher and higher, our "gas bubble" be comes relatively smaller and smaller on the landing, and, unless the balloon be properly designed, we may find that we have made a flight to very great altitude, only to crash when almost on the ground. It is evident that the problems of stratosphere balloon ing should be studied very carefully. To get still more altitude, the balloon may be flown to a maximum ceiling by drop ping all ballast, and saving none for de scent; the gondola may be cut away at the top of the flight on a large parachute, leav- ing the balloon to go still higher with light automatic instruments while the gondola floats to earth with the men and the major portion of the scientific apparatus. The fall of such a gondola on a parachute in the extremely thin upper air of the strato sphere would be for tens of thousands of feet before the parachute would really retard it. That would be a ride! THE SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE On the scientific Advisory Committee of the 1935 flight were: Chairman, Dr. Lyman J. Briggs, Director, National Bureau of Standards; Dr. Gil bert Grosvenor, President, National Geographic Society; Brigadier General Oscar Westover, Acting Chief, U. S. Army Air Corps; Dr. Frederick V. Coville, Chairman, Research Committee, National Geographic Society; Dr. W. F. G . Swann, Director, Bartol Research Foundation, Franklin Institute; Captain R. S . Patton, Director, U. S . Coast and Geodetic Survey; Mr. Willis R. Gregg, Chief, U. S. Weather Bureau; Dr. Floyd K. Richtmyer, Cornell University, and Research Council, National Acad emy of Sciences; Dr. L. B. Tuckerman, National Bureau of Standards; Dr. Charles E. K. Mees, Director, Research Laboratory, Eastman Kodak Company; Dr. John Oliver La Gorce, Vice Presi dent, National Geographic Society, and Mr. Thomas W. McKnew, National Geographic So ciety, secretary to the Committee. The following collaborators, arranged alphabetically, gave valuable assistance, which is gratefully acknowledged by The National Geographic Society: Secretary of War George H. Dern, United States Department of Agriculture, Bausch and Lomb Optical Company, Bartol Research Foundation, Bell and Howell Company, Black Hills Associated Commercial Clubs, Mr. William A. M. Burden; Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, of the Car negie Institution, Washington, D. C.; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, Dow Chemical Company, Col. Edward A. Deeds, Eastman Kodak Company, Mr. Sherman Fairchild, Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation, Fairchild Aviation Corpora tion, Ford Motor Company, Folmer Graflex Cor poration; Fourth U. S . Cavalry, Fort Meade, S. D., Col. Robert McC. Beck, Jr., U. S. A., Command ing Officer; Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, Ham ilton Watch Company, Homestake Mining Com pany, Mr. Philip G. Johnson, Mr. C. F. Kettering, Linde Air Products Company, National Broadcast ing Company, National Bureau of Standards, Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, Dr. A . Hamil ton Rice, University of Rochester, Shell Petroleum Corporation, Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, Sioux Skyways of Sioux Falls, S. D., South Dakota School of Mines, Sperry Gyroscope Company, State of South Dakota (Hon. Tom Berry, Gover nor), South Dakota National Guard, United Air Lines, United Aircraft and Transport Company, United States Weather Bureau, Mr. Cornelius V. Whitney, Mr. George D. Widener, and the Uni versity of Wisconsin.