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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  Hysterical History  |  Topic: CAP and Reconnaissance Balloons
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Falling Hare
Recruit

Posts: 9

« on: April 19, 2016, 08:50:25 PM »

I just got through reading the very interesting book The Moby Dick Project: Reconnaissance Balloons Over Russia by Curtis Peebles (Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press. 1991). 

At the start of the Coldwar the US was desperate to find out what was going on deep inside the Soviet Union.  In 1950 the USAF Scientific Advisory Board held a meeting to examine ways to get photographic intelligence of the Russian interior.  Cruise missiles and recon satellites were still years away and at that time, manned overflights were out of the question.  Using balloons with photographic gear to drift across Russia on the jet-stream had been proposed as early as 1946.  So in October 1950 this balloon project was given the code name Gopher and given high priority.  These huge 70 foot balloons could haul around 1,300 pounds of high tech photographic gear.  Of course these rigs had to be tested over the continental US under the cover of "weather" research.

Peebles writes on page 110:

"The second flight of July 10 was a wild adventure.  The balloon, carrying a complete gondola and ballast weighing 914 pounds, ascended through a thunderstorm.  As it did, the balloon made a large unexplained oscillation, then climbed to its maximum altitude of 60,700 feet.  The balloon then drifted east, tracked by General Mills ground crews and Stanley Aviation aircraft.  When the call-down signal was transmitted, there was no response and the balloon was soon lost.  It was believed the gondola had come down in central Pennsylvania and the Civil Air Patrol began an extensive area search.  Later, the plastic balloon was found in the Atlantic Ocean by a passing tanker.  The gondola had apparently been released after an estimated 120 hour flight and was lost at sea."

The project actually went on to be quite successful, with the balloon gondolas being "snagged" by specially equipped C-119's over the Pacific!  I can't help but wonder how many other classified projects CAP has been involved with over the years!
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Mitchell 1969
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 616
Unit: PCR-CA-051

« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2016, 09:11:54 PM »


I can't help but wonder how many other classified projects CAP has been involved with over the years!

That's classified.
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_________________
Bernard J. Wilson, Major, CAP

Mitchell 1969; Earhart 1971; Eaker 1973. Cadet Flying Encampment, License, 1970. IACE New Zealand 1971; IACE Korea 1973.

CAP has been bery, bery good to me.
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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  Hysterical History  |  Topic: CAP and Reconnaissance Balloons
 


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