"Father Of The Modern Hot Air Balloon" Was 87
Aero-News has learned the founder of the Balloon Federation of
America -- a man called "the father of the modern-day hot air
balloon" -- passed away Sunday. Paul "Ed" Yost, 87, reportedly
collapsed while doing yardwork outside his Taos, NM home.
The founder of the Balloon Federation of America, Yost is often
credited with making the first free flight in a modern hot-air
balloon October 1955. That aircraft sported a plastic envelope and
was fueled by kerosene -- design attributes Yost later revised into
today's propane-fueled, nylon-envelope hot air balloons.
Yost further refined the modern-day balloon with other features
which he patented. These include nonporous synthetic fabrics,
maneuvering vents, and deflation systems for landing. Yost also
designed the distinctive "teardrop" shape of the hot air balloon
On April 13, 1963, Yost -- along with photographer Don Piccard
-- launched the 60,000 cubic foot hot air balloon "Channel Champ"
from Rye, England. Three hours and seventeen minutes later Yost
landed the aircraft near Gravelines, France completing the historic
voyage. Newspaper headlines around the world proclaimed their
success the next day... and effectively introduced the hot air
balloon to the world.
During the flight Yost and Piccard sat on a simple board between
two 30-gallon propane tanks. The tiny one-can burner produced a
mere two-million BTUs (today's modern hot air balloon burners will
produce 11-20 million BTUs). The balloon had no top vent, instead
the top was simply gathered together, tied with nylon cord and
fixed with an explosive squib that, when fired after landing, would
allow the balloon to rapidly deflate.
During the flight Yost was forced to climb to an altitude of
13,500 feet to find favorable winds that would carry them across
the Channel and into France.
In 1976, Yost made the first attempt to cross the Atlantic in a
hot air balloon in the "Silver Fox." That flight ended some 2,700
miles from the starting point in Milbridge, ME, in the sea
approximately 700 miles west of Portugal. Though the flight failed
to achieve its primary goal, Yost was able to claim two new
records, for flight distance and time; his work also laid the
groundwork for the successful "Double Eagle II" flight by Ben
Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman two years later.
Over the course of his lifetime, Yost received numerous awards
for his contributions to aviation from The Fédération
Aéronautique Internationale, the Wingfoot Lighter-Than-Air
Society, the National Aeronautic Association, Balloon Federation of
America and the Aero Club of New England.
As ANN reported, the
"Channel Champ" was enshrined into the National Balloon Museum in
Indianola, IA in May 2006. Yost was also the first inductee into
the US Ballooning Hall of Fame, in 2004.
Most recently, he was awarded the prestigious Lipton Trophy by
the British Balloon and Airship Club in 2006.
(ANN thanks Glen Moyer with the Balloon Federation of
America for providing information about Yost.)