Currently viewing the tag: "hot air balloons"

S. A. Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 was an effort to reach the North Pole in which all three expedition members perished. S. A. Andrée (1854–97), the first Swedish balloonist, proposed a voyage by hydrogen balloon from Svalbard to either Russia or Canada, which was to pass, with luck, straight over the North Pole on the way. The scheme was received with patriotic enthusiasm in Sweden, a northern nation that had fallen behind in the race for the North Pole.

Andrée ignored many early signs of the dangers associated with his balloon plan. Being able to steer the balloon to some extent was essential for a safe journey, and there was plenty of evidence that the drag-rope steering technique he had invented was ineffective; yet he staked the fate of the expedition on drag ropes. Worse, the polar balloon Örnen (The Eagle) was delivered directly to Svalbard from its manufacturer in Paris without being tested; when measurements showed it to be leaking more than expected, Andrée refused to acknowledge the alarming implications. Most modern students of the expedition see Andrée’s optimism, faith in the power of technology, and disregard for the forces of nature as the main factors in the series of events that led to his death and those of his two companions Nils Strindberg (1872–97) and Knut Frænkel (1870–97).

After Andrée, Strindberg, and Frænkel lifted off from Svalbard in July 1897, the balloon lost hydrogen quickly and crashed on the pack ice after only two days. The explorers were unhurt but faced a grueling trek back south across the drifting icescape. Inadequately clothed, equipped, and prepared, and shocked by the difficulty of the terrain, they did not make it to safety. As the Arctic winter closed in on them in October, the group ended up exhausted on the deserted Kvitøya (White Island) in Svalbard and died there. For 33 years the fate of the Andrée expedition remained one of the unsolved riddles of the Arctic. The chance discovery in 1930 of the expedition’s last camp created a media sensation in Sweden, where the dead men had been mourned and idolized. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of about an adventurer who takes unnecessary risk and the consequences.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the riskiest thing you ever tried and what happened.

Art Prompt: Hot air balloon

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a doomed expedition and the lessons it teaches us.

Photo Credit: Eagle-crashed on Wikimedia
SI Neg. 2002-20292. Date: na. Photo of unknown artist's rendition on a poster of Marie Madeleine Sophie (Armand) Blanchard's balloon ascension in Milan, Italy, Aug. 15, 1811. Blanchard became France's 1st female professional balloonist in order to continue her husband's ballooning legacy. Credit: unknown (Smithsonian Institution)

SI Neg. 2002-20292. Date: na.
Photo of unknown artist’s rendition on a poster of Marie Madeleine Sophie (Armand) Blanchard’s balloon ascension in Milan, Italy, Aug. 15, 1811. Blanchard became France’s 1st female professional balloonist in order to continue her husband’s ballooning legacy.
Credit: unknown (Smithsonian Institution)

… ballooning was not just the domain of scientists and emperors — it was the apparatus of adventure, and those willing to go aloft were often reckless showmen and women, willing to risk their lives to thrill an audience. Long before Amelia Earhart, female aeronauts were some of the most famous performers of their day, riding aloft in beautiful silk balloons loaded with fireworks to perform acrobatic tricks thousands of feet above the ground. Napoleon’s favorite daredevil was Sophie Blanchard. The young woman had learned the trade from her older balloonist husband, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who died of a heart attack during a damaged balloon descent.
Sophie devised a special balloon for her ascents, which featured a tiny festooned gondola that could hardly fit one standing person. She would float above the crowd as if standing on air, fireworks trailing behind, often wearing a signature white dress with a colorfully plumed hat. During a nighttime display in 1819, one of Blanchard’s fireworks ignited her hydrogen balloon, causing her to fall to her death in front of a horrified crowd in Paris. –Michelle Legro

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a dare devil who dies during a stunt.

Journaling Prompt: What is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?

Art Prompt: Hot air balloon stunt

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of your favorite dare devil.

Photo Credit: public.resource.org on Flickr