Ballooning was man’s first opportunity
to get into the air.
The Montgolfier Brothers in France made the first
manned flight in 1783 traveling 5 ˝ miles in 25 minutes.
Ballooning became popular as a sporting event and
was even used in several wars.
It was used by the military for the observation
of enemy troops and was used during the Franc-Prussian
War in 1870 and by the Union Army during the Civil War.
With the advent of the airplane, ballooning became
mainly for sport.
When every stunt and record was accomplished with
airplanes, attention once again turned to ballooning.
A non-stop flight around the globe would become
the “Last Great Sporting Adventure in the History of Flight”.
in Bristol, England built this capsule in1998 in an attempt
to be the first balloon to fly non-stop around the world
and win a $1,000,000 prize sponsored by Anheuser Busch.
The balloon design is of the 'Rosier' type.
Helium lifting gas can be heated with propane burners
to allow the pilots to control the ascent or descent of
the balloon. Since
the trip could be expected to take up to 2 weeks, the
balloon crew would experience temperature changes because
of night and day.
It was critical that the pilots be able to control
the balloons altitude so they could take advantage of
the best winds.
At night, temperatures would cool the helium where
it would naturally contract and the balloon would want
to descend. During the day, the solar heating would expand the gas and
it naturally wanted to rise.
By allowing the sun to heat the gas during the
day the propane burners could heat the gas at night to
maintain the desired altitude.
By taking advantage of jet stream winds at altitudes
between 24,000 to 43,000 feet, they could travel around
the globe in as little as 10 days.
The crew of 3 would breath air produced from liquid
oxygen and nitrogen.
Exhaled carbon dioxide would be removed from the
capsule’s air through absorption of bilithium dioxide
cartridges, while activated charcoal filters would maintain
air quality. There
were 2 bunks for sleeping, keeping at least 1 of the crew
awake to fly the balloon.
Winds for favorable conditions in the
Northern Hemisphere are during the winter months. The 'Spirit of Peace' crew included noted gas balloonists Jacques
Soukup, Chrispen Williams and Mark Sullivan.
By the 1998-1999 season, the Spirit of Peace was
ready at its launch site in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Almost 30 long distance attempts were
made by this time with some of the balloons sponsored
by Steve Fossett, Barron Hilton and Richard Branson.
The furthest anyone had made it was about 65% around
the world, some having forced landings in the oceans and
February 1999, while anxiously awaiting for the jet stream
to come south over Albuquerque and trying to obtain permission
to fly over communist China, the Spirit of Peace crew
watched as the Branson crew found favorable conditions
and launched out of Morocco headed for China.
While trying to gain permission to fly over China
in flight they finally crossed over China without it,
only to have to ditch just off the Hawaii Islands.
As the season was winding down in Albuquerque,
the Brietling Orbiter team launched from Switzerland.
After almost 20 days they became the first balloon
to travel around the world when they touched down March
21, 1999 in Egypt.
It was unfortunate for the Spirit of
Peace crew that the previous metrological studies did
not consider that El Nino would have affected their weather
patterns so severely.
After the Breitling Team won the race, Mrs.
Weeks donated the capsule to the Weeks Air Museum. Steve Fossett was not about to give up his dream of flying
around the world.
He now wanted to become the first person to fly
solo in a balloon around the world.
Steve purchased the Spirit of Peace envelope and
used it on an unsuccessful attempt when he launched from
Australia, headed eastbound and made it all the way to
Brazil. Steve was finally successful on a later attempt
several years later when he again took off from Australia
and after 15 days in the air landed back in Australia
on July 4, 2002.
The Spirit of
Peace was sponsored by my Mother, Rev. Marta Weeks, to
promote “harmony, social justice and world peace.”