The Project Man High II balloon launch took place August 19, 1957, from the Portsmouth open pit iron mine near Crosby, Minnesota. It was the second of three manned balloon flights in the project and was the most successful of the three. Details of all three Project Man High flights are well documented and available on the Internet.
The US Air Force chose the Portsmouth pit because of its depth, its length perpendicular to prevailing winds, and its closeness to Winzen Research, Inc., the manufacturer of the balloons. They may have also tapped the considerable expertise available from the government-funded balloon research project operated jointly by the University of Minnesota Physics Department and General Mills.
The weather on launch day was clear with only occasional clouds. Wind was light, but only barely within the stringent limits for balloon launch.
I took these pictures of the launch from a spoil dump on the south side of the Portsmouth pit, just opposite the launch site. The pictures show the balloon during its inflation process, launch, and at high altitude. I took the last picture several minutes after launch, as the balloon was expanding in the thin, high atmosphere.
An air policeman patrolling the location permitted me to use the location when I promised him copies of my slides. He was mostly occupied chasing kids away from this dangerous location.
My equipment was a 35-mm single-lens reflex camera with standard f-3.5 lens. I didn’t record the aperture setting nor the exposure time. Film was Kodak Ektrachrome positive transparency.
Click on the link below to see more pictures of the launch and preparations.
In the above link, I am the person in the picture labeled ‘Seeing the launch up close and personal’. I took my pictures a few tens of feet to the left of my location in the picture.
Pictures copyright August 1957, text and captions copyright April 2010 by Bernard Thomas Johnson. All rights reserved.