1902 Encyclopedia > Aeronautics > Mr Glaisher's Balloon Ascents (cont'd): August 20 and 21, 1862; September 1, 1862.

(Part 32)

Mr Glaisher's Balloon Ascents (cont'd): August 20 and 21, 1862; September 1, 1862.

The ascent from the Crystal Palace on August 20, 1862, was merely an ordinary one for the public amusement, in which Mr. Glaisher took a place in the car. In these low ascents from places of entertainment, in which other persons also were passengers, the large board stretching right across the car could not be used. A smaller frame was therefore made, which could be screwed on to the edge of the car, to carry the watch, siphon barometer, aneroid barometer, dry and wet bulb thermometers, grid-iron thermometer, and Daniell's and Regmault's hygrometers, which comprised all the instruments usually taken up in these low ascents. In the first low ascent, July 30, this framework was fixed inside the car; but as it seemed possible that the warmth proceeding from the voyagers might influence the readings of the instruments, it was always afterwards fixed outside, and projected beyond the car, so that all the instruments were freely exposed to the surrounding air. The ascent on August 20 was a low one, and presented no remarkable feature except that the balloon was nearly becalmed over London. The earth was left at 6.26P.M. and the air was so quiet that at the height of three-quarters of a mile the balloon was still over the Crystal Palace. At 7th. 47m. it was over London, and moving so slowly that it was thought desirable to ascend above the clouds in hopes of meeting with a more rapid current of air. At 8h. 5m. the voyagers were above the clouds, and it became quite light again, darkness having come on whilst hovering over London, at which time the gradual illumination by the lights in the streets formed a most wonderful sight, and one never to be forgotten. The roar, or rather loud hum, proceeding from the great city was also most remarkable. After having been above the clouds some time, the lowing of cattle and other agricultural sounds were heard. Accordingly, the valve-line was pulled, and the balloon descended below the clouds, when the light of London was seen in the distance as a misty glare. The darkness increased as the balloon descended very slowly, and it at length touched the ground so gently in the middle of a field at Mill Hill, near Hendon, that those in the car were scarcely aware of the contact. There were twelve voyagers altogether, and when with some trouble sufficient countrymen were collected to take their places and enable them to leave the car, it was resolved to anchor the ballon for the night and to make an ascent in the early morning. Accordingly, at 4.30 A.M. on August 21, the earth was left, there being altogether five persons in the car. It was a dull, warm, cloudy morning, with the sky overcast. In about an hour the height of 3 miles was attained, and the temperature had fallen to 23 o, having been 58 o on the earth before leaving. The aspect of the clouds under formation before an during the rising of the sun was marvelous in the extreme, and baffled description. There were seen shining masses of cloud in mountain chains, rising perpendicularly from the plain, with summits of dazzling whiteness, forming vast ravines, down which the balloon appeared to glide, or pass through their sides, into other valleys, until, as the balloon rose far above, all appeared a mighty sea of white cloud. The descent was effected about a quarter past seven, and the transition from the magnificent scene above the clouds to the ugly prospect of the dreary earth as seen early on a dull morning, with a uniform leaden sky, was most depressing. The place of descent was near Biggleswade.

The most noteworthy fact in connection with the ascent, September 1, 1862, was, that from the balloon the clouds were observed to be forming below, and seen to be following the whole course of the Thames from the Nore to Richmond. The clouds were above the river following all its windings, and extending neither to the right nor to the left. It was about the time of high water at London Bridge, and the phenomenon was no doubt connected with the warm water from the sea.

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