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Author Topic: First Manned Flight in the Statosphere  (Read 662 times)
J. Wilhelm
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« on: April 20, 2016, 08:04:47 am »

On 17 July 1862, Scientist James Glaisher and Aeronaut Henry Coxwell, climbed on a balloon and set to investigate the physics of the high altitude atmosphere, on what would be the first of 22 flights, funded by the British Association for the Advancement of Science...

Excerpts from Article by David Robson for BBC News, 20 April 2016:
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160419-the-victorians-who-flew-as-high-as-jets

The dead pigeons should have been James Glaisher’s warning. On 5 December 1862, the scientist was taking one of his first balloon flights – and alongside the compass, thermometers and bottles of brandy, he had decided to bring along six birds.

“One was thrown out at the height of three miles,” he later wrote. “When it extended its wings it dropped like a piece of paper; the second, at four miles, flew vigorously round and round, apparently taking a dip each time; a third was thrown out between four and five miles, and it fell downwards as a stone.”




No sooner had he noted these observations than he began to feel the “balloon sickness” himself. His arm had been resting on the table, but it failed to respond when he tried to lift it. Alarmed, he tried to call out to his aeronaut, Henry Coxwell, but the words froze in his mouth and his head lolled helplessly to one side.

Glaisher knew the end was nigh. “In an instance darkness overcame me… I believed I would experience nothing more as death would come unless we speedily descended.”

Amazingly, both Coxwell and Glaisher survived thanks to some last-minute luck – but had they not they would have drifted to their deaths at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. Their plight is one of the great daredevil stories in the history of aviation – and perhaps even a glimpse into the future of space travel.



~ ~ ~

The pair estimated that they had risen to 37,000 feet – 7 miles (11km) – the highest altitude that a manned flight had reached at that point.

Neither Glaisher nor Coxwell could have fully understood the cause of their “balloon illness”. The cold, and the lack of oxygen will have certainly contributed, but a recent paper in Neurology journal suggests they may also have been suffering the “bends” that divers experience if they rise too quickly; thanks to falling pressure during the rapid ascent, gases like nitrogen and oxygen are released in the blood, forming bubbles in the neural tissue. The result is nausea, paralysis and loss of consciousness.
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2016, 11:05:44 pm »

Fascinating! Thank you for sharing this, J Wilhelm!
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