Purpose of the flight and payload description

First manned balloon flight of the StratoLab navy program. The pilots Malcolm Ross and Lee Lewis remained at the new unofficial manned balloon altitude record (76.000 ft) for only a few minutes before they suddenly began to drop. Assuming a ripped balloon, they radioed an emergency situation to ground control as they fell at 4,000 feet per minute. Both men decided to stay with the balloon as it descended. Fortunately, after ditching over 200 lbs of hardware overboard, their landing was a safe one

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 11/8/1956 at 6.19 local
Launch site: Stratobowl, Black Hills, South Dakota, US  
Balloon launched by: General Mills Inc.
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon  
Flight identification number: GMI 2000
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 11/8/1956
Landing site: Near Bownlee, Nebraska, US

Minutes after the balloon reached float level, it started to descent due to a leak.

External references

Images of the mission

The Strato-Lab gondola during balloon inflation (Image: Naval History and Heritage Command) Launch of the STRATOLAB-I from the The Strato-Lab gondola rises from the Stratobowl and is now about to clear the rim, some 400 feet above the launch site (Image: Naval History and Heritage Command) This unique image of the STRATOLAB-I at float level was obtained from the chase plane by a photographer of the National Geographic Magazine. The landing site in Nebraska

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