1902 Encyclopedia > Aeronautics > Balloon Ascents of Bixio and Barral

(Part 27)

Balloon Ascents of Bixio and Barral

From 1804 to 1850 there is no record of any scientific ascents in balloons having been undertaken. In the latter year MM. Bixio and Barral made two ascents for this purpose. They ascended from the Paris Observatory on June 29, 1850, at 10.27 A.M., the balloon being inflated with hydrogen has. The day was a rough one, and the ascent took place suddenly, without any previous attempt having been made to test the ascensional force of the balloon. When liberated, it rose with great rapidity, and becoming fully inflated it pressed upon the network, bulging out at the top and bottom. As the ropes by which the car was suspended were too short, the balloon soon covered the travelers like an immense hood. In endeavouring to secure the valve-rope, a rent was made in the balloon, and the gas escaped so close to the faces of the voyagers as almost to suffocate them. Finding that they were descending then too rapidly, they threw overboard everything available, including their coats, and only excepting the instruments. The ground was reached at 10h. 45m., near Lagny. Of course no obserbations were made.

MM. Bixio and Barral determined to ascend again without delay, and accordingly, on July 27, 1850, they repeated the experiment. The ascent was remarkable on account of the extreme cold met with. At about 20,000 feet the temperature was 15° Fahr., below that experienced by Gay-Lussac at the same elevation. The existence of these very cold clouds served to explain certain meteorological phenomena that were observed on the earth both the day before and the day after the ascent. Some pigeons were taken up in this, as in most other high ascents, and liberated; they showed a reluctance to leave the car, and then fell heavily downwards.

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