Special – 1978 Flight Of Double Eagle II – 1st Trans-Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Crossing


Sone of the more enjoyable surprises about unveiling and posting Bone Daddy’s 2300 hour vintage sports, comedy and music library are the many “special historic program events” that he recorded back in the day…..and one of my favorite pieces is evidenced in this video about the flight of Double Eagle II…..which was the historic 1st Trans-Atlantic crossing by a hot air balloon….cuz it really gives the viewer insight into what it took just to accomplish this misssion.

Double Eagle II was piloted by Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman….which became the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it landed on August 17, 1978 in Miserey near Paris, France…..a mear 137 hours 6 minutes after leaving Presque Isle, Maine in the United States..


It could have easily been regarded as a successful crossing at the point that the Double Eagle II crossed the Irish coast on the evening of August 16…..when Shannon Airport in Ireland notified the crew about when it happened….as Larry Newman had originally intended to hang glide from the balloon to a landing….while Anderson and Abruzzo continued to fly….but the hang-glider had to be dropped as ballast earlier in this historic day….then while flying over France,….they heard by radio that authorities had closed Le Bourget Airfield and made room for them to land at the place where Charles Lindbergh had landed years before in the 1st Trans-Atlantic airplane crossing….but the crew declined the offer as they were running out of ballast and it would be too risky (to themselves and anyone below) to pass over the suburbs of Paris….so, they landed in a field of barley…..which was owned by Roger and Rachel Coquerel of Miserey….some 60 mi (97 km) northwest of Paris…..while television cameras showed a highway nearby the eventual landing spot with its shoulders and outer lanes crowded with stopped cars….as people were sweeping across the farm field to the landing spot. The gondola was protected….but most of the logs and charts were stolen by souvenir hunters.

The Flight of Double Eagle II was the fourteenth known attempt….which was the culmination of more than a century of previous attempts to cross the Atlantic Ocean by balloon. Some of the people who had attempted it were never found….in an event after which Larry Newman won a draw among the three to sleep in the same bed at the United States embassy that Lindbergh slept in….all the while that British balloonists Cameron and Davey feted the trio at a party that included a balloon shaped like the Double Eagle II. 

A full chronicle of the voyage can be found in the December 1978 issue of National Geographic….as the Double Eagle II Airport was later named for the balloon….while the gondola is displayed at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.…and a monument containing a model of the balloon, was built to commemorate the Double Eagle II and its Atlantic crossing at the field from where the balloon lifted off….and then some 38 years later in January 2015….the crew of the Two Eagles Balloon completed a flight across the Pacific Ocean…..in a balloon flight that was verified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale….as the official breaking of the time-aloft record of the Double Eagle II.

Any way you look at this historic event….the accomplishment in “baloon aviation” was ever more dramatic and exciting by providing the viewer a “bird’s eye look” at what was entailled in this accomplishment by the documentation of this video below…..for this is truly historic footage.

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