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Sat Aug 17, 2019, 08:47 AM

41 Years Ago Today; Double Eagle II becomes first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean


Double Eagle II, piloted by Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman, became the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it landed 17 August 1978 in Miserey near Paris, 137 hours 6 minutes after leaving Presque Isle, Maine.

Double Eagle II Gondola

It can be regarded as a successful crossing at the point that the Double Eagle II crossed the Irish coast, on the evening of 16 August, an event that Shannon Airport notified the crew about when it happened. Newman originally intended to hang glide from the balloon to a landing, while Anderson and Abruzzo continued to fly, but the hang-glider had to be dropped as ballast earlier on 16 August.

While flying over France, they heard by radio that authorities had closed Le Bourget Airfield, where Charles Lindbergh had landed, for them. The crew declined the offer as they were running out of ballast and it would be too risky (to themselves and anyone below) to pass over the suburbs of Paris. They landed in a field of barley, owned by Roger and Rachel Coquerel, in Miserey, 60 mi (97 km) northwest of Paris. Television images showed a highway nearby, its shoulders and outer lanes crowded with stopped cars, people sweeping across the farm field to the landing spot. The gondola was protected, but most of the logs and charts were stolen by souvenir hunters.

The flight, the fourteenth known attempt, was the culmination of more than a century of previous attempts to cross the Atlantic Ocean by balloon. Some of the people who had attempted it were never found.

Larry Newman won a draw among the three to sleep in the same bed at the United States embassy that Lindbergh slept in. British balloonists Don Cameron and Christopher Davey feted the trio at a party that included a balloon shaped like the Double Eagle II. The trio and their wives planned to return to the United States aboard the supersonic Concorde. Upon the successful crossing, the trip was accommodated by Air France at no charge to the trio and spouses.

A full chronicle of the voyage can be found in the December 1978 issue of National Geographic.

The Double Eagle II Airport is named for the balloon.

The gondola is displayed at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. A monument, containing a model of the balloon, was built to commemorate the Double Eagle II and its Atlantic crossing at the field from where the balloon lifted off (46°37′36.54″N 68°1′16.66″W).

In January 2015, the crew of the Two Eagles Balloon completed a flight across the Pacific Ocean. Their flight duration of 160 hours and 34 minutes record was verified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, officially breaking the time-aloft record of the Double Eagle II.

Builder: Ed Yost; Tea, South Dakota
Balloon: 160,000 cu ft (4,500 m3) helium-filled; 112 ft (34 m) high, 65 ft (20 m) in diameter
Gondola: 15 × 7 × 4½ foot; name The Spirit of Albuquerque
Equipment: 1 VHF radio, 2 single sideband HF radios, 1 ADF beacon transmitter, 1 amateur band radio, 1 maritime radio, hookup to Nimbus 6 satellite.
Total weight: 760 lb (340 kg) empty
Take-off: 8:43 p.m. EDT - 11 August (00:42 UTC 12 August)
Landing: 7:49 p.m. Western Europe Summer Time - 17 August (17:48 UTC 17 August)
Total flight time: 137 hours, 6 minutes (5.7 days)
Lowest altitude: 3,500 feet (1,070 m) - 13 August
Highest altitude: 24,950 feet (7,605 m) - 16 August
Total distance: 4,988 km (3,099 mi)
Average speed: 22 mph (35 km/h)


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Reply 41 Years Ago Today; Double Eagle II becomes first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Aug 17 OP
RightiswrongTn Aug 17 #1

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 09:28 AM

1. Awesome post

Thanks for sharing.

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