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Mon, May 28, 2007

Gone West: BFA Founder Paul 'Ed' Yost

"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 envelope itself.

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.)

FMI: www.bfa.net

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