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Online Library of Selected Images -- Picture Data

Photo #: NH 96949 -- Extended Caption

USS Valley Forge (CVS-45)

Tracer balloons are launched from the carrier to test upper atmosphere wind conditions, during Operation "Skyhook" in late January 1960. A ten-million cubic foot research balloon is being prepared for flight at the forward end of the flight deck.
Photo was released for publication on 3 February 1960.

The master caption originally provided with this photo series is provided below.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 93KB; 740 x 615 pixels


Original Master Caption for this photo series:

A "Skyhook" balloon filled with 10 million cubic feet of helium left the flight deck of the support aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge about 100 miles south of the Virgin Islands on January 26 and climbed to an altitude of 116,000 feet. The balloon, "Skyhook Bravo", weighed 1760 pounds and carried an additional load of 2903 pounds -- mostly scientific equipment. This was the largest total weight ever lifted to such an altitude by a plastic balloon. As the helium filled the balloon, it was allowed to inch up through rollers, reaching its full length -- 500 feet -- shortly after dawn. It was launched then. The unmanned balloon was in flight eight hours. When it was carried off its planned course in the Caribbean Sea toward South America by unexpected winds, its gondola was jettisoned. The Navy destroyer Hyman recovered the gondola from the sea and returned it to the Valley Forge. The instrument package was used on another Skyhook flight in the series which launched three 10 million cubic foot balloons.

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1 September 1999