Incredible Journey of a Japanese Balloon Bomb

On February 23, 1945, three preteen boys, Larry Bailey and brothers Ken and Bob Fein, were playing in North Dorr, Michigan, near the Fein’s house. All of a sudden, a mysterious object appeared floating overhead and descend at a 45° angle. The boys knew that it was about to land close by. “We were so excited, we got a family friend Joe Wolf to come with us in his pickup truck, and we tracked it,” said Bailey.

Read More

A Japanese War Weapon and Don Piccard’s Famous Flight

Seventy years ago, Donald Piccard, barely 21, modified the envelope of a Japanese balloon bomb for a balloon flight over Minneapolis and earned the nation’s first Free Balloon Pilot Certificate. The student pilot flew solo for two hours and 10 minutes in a paper and hydrogen balloon for the first time, creating history and reactivating the sport of ballooning in the United States. But the balloon that he flew also brought to light another interesting story–this one from its prior service as a Japanese balloon bomb!

Read More

Fifty Years of Balloon-Borne Ozone Research

The balloon-borne ozonesonde helped NOAA develop knowledge and expertise to find out about the depletion of ozone. In May 1985, scientists with the British Antarctic Survey announced that they had discovered a huge hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. The largest ozone hole area recorded to date was on September 9, 2000, at 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square kilometers). Scientists had launched the first ozonesonde in 1967 to learn about its distribution…

Read More