Public Lab Research note

Kite Balloon of R.H. Upson

by mathew | April 13, 2012 04:14 13 Apr 04:14 | #1665 | #1665

For reasons of pedigree I'm optimistic about the functionality of this design and want to try building a scaled down replica out of mylar sleeping bags. The crucial features that I want to integrate are 1) the use (I think) of a Picavet style rigging to hang the payload, and 2) the use of two side-by-side envelopes.

In doing some biographical research on the career of Domina Jalbert and the pre-WWII aerospace team at Goodyear, I stumbled on R.H. Upson, a distinguished engineer whose career spanned from balloon races to space planes.
Through the google group kite patents I found a 1916 kite balloon design I'd previously not known about.

Morphologically, Upson's balloon is two Parseval-Sigsfeld balloons with airfoil-like profiles strapped to each other. The payload appears to be suspended via a Picavet style rigging. See more of history on the kite-balloon hybrid page. I can't find any pictures of one actually in existence and know that the Caquot-type balloon was actually fielded by the US, not Upson's design.

Upson's streamlining of the balloon envelopes into airfoil profiles was a technique also used by Domina Jalbert in the 40's and 50's in his kite balloons. I think he could have been influenced by R.H. Upson. I can't prove it, but it seems unlikely that they wouldn't have known each other, having both worked at Goodyear and both being obsessed with aerostats.


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