Double Eagle II
Double Eagle II, piloted by Ben Abruzzo
Ben Abruzzo
Benjamin L. Abruzzo was an American hot air balloonist and businessman. He helped increase the reputation of Albuquerque as a center of lighter-than-air and hot-air ballooning.-Biography:...

, Maxie Anderson
Maxie Anderson
Max Leroy Anderson was an American hot air balloonist and businessman. He helped place Albuquerque on the map as the balloon capital of the world...

, and Larry Newman
Larry Newman (aviator)
Larry Newman was an American pilot and balloonist.- Early life :Newman won the Congressional Gold Medal awarded by the United States Congress for his flight in the Double Eagle II with Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson. The flight was the first manned balloon crossing of the Atlantic non-stop...

, became the first balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...

 to cross
Transatlantic flight
Transatlantic flight is the flight of an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. A transatlantic flight may proceed east-to-west, originating in Europe or Africa and terminating in North America or South America, or it may go in the reverse direction, west-to-east...

 the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 when it landed 17 August 1978 in Miserey
Miserey is a commune in the Eure department in Haute-Normandie in northern France.-Population:...

 near Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, 137 hours 6 minutes after leaving Presque Isle
Presque Isle, Maine
Presque Isle is the commercial center and largest city in the sparsely populated Aroostook County, Maine, United States. The population was 9,692 at the 2010 census...

, Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...


It can be regarded as a successful crossing at the point that the Double Eagle II crossed the Irish
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 coast, on the evening of 16 August, an event that Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport, is one of the Republic of Ireland's three primary airports along with Dublin and Cork. In 2010 around 1,750,000 passengers passed through the airport, making it the third busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin and Cork, and the fifth busiest airport on the island...

 notified the crew about when it happened. Newman originally intended to hang glide
Hang gliding
Hang gliding is an air sport in which a pilot flies a light and unmotorized foot-launchable aircraft called a hang glider ....

 from the balloon to a landing, while Anderson and Abruzzo continued to fly, but the hang-glider had to be dropped as ballast earlier on 16 August.

While flying over France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, they heard by radio that authorities had closed Le Bourget Airfield
Le Bourget Airport
Paris – Le Bourget Airport is an airport located in Le Bourget, Bonneuil-en-France, and Dugny, north-northeast of Paris, France. It is now used only for general aviation as well as air shows...

, where Charles Lindbergh had landed, for them. 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. They landed in a field of barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, owned by Roger and Rachel Coquerel, in Miserey, 60 miles (96 km) northwest of Paris. Television images showed a highway nearby, its shoulders and outer lanes crowded with stopped cars, people sweeping across the farm field to the landing spot. The gondola was protected, but most of the logs and charts were swiped by souvenir hunters.

The flight, the fourteenth known attempt, 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.

At least one radio report started out with the song, "Up, Up and Away
Up, Up and Away (song)
"Up, Up and Away" is a 1967 song written by Jimmy Webb and recorded by The 5th Dimension, that became a major pop hit, reaching #7 on the U.S. Pop Singles chart and #18 in Canada...

" by The 5th Dimension.

Larry Newman won a draw among the three to sleep in the same bed at the United States embassy that Lindbergh slept in. Cameron and Davey, the British balloonists, feted the trio at a party that included a balloon shaped like the Double Eagle II. The trio and their wives planned to return to the United States aboard the supersonic Concorde
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

, and that trip was accommodated by Air France at no charge.

A full chronicle of the voyage can be found in the December 1978 issue of National Geographic.

The Double Eagle II Airport
Double Eagle II Airport
Double Eagle II Airport is a public airport located seven miles northwest of the central business district of Albuquerque, a city in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, United States. It is owned by the City of Albuquerque....

 is named for the balloon.

The gondola is displayed at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum 's annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States....

 of the Smithsonian
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

 annex at Washington Dulles International Airport
Washington Dulles International Airport
Washington Dulles International Airport is a public airport in Dulles, Virginia, 26 miles west of downtown Washington, D.C. The airport serves the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia metropolitan area centered on the District of Columbia. It is named after John Foster Dulles, Secretary of...

 in the Chantilly
Chantilly, Virginia
Chantilly is an unincorporated community located in western Fairfax County and southeastern Loudoun County of Northern Virginia. Recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census designated place , the community population was 23,039 as of the 2010 census -- down from 41,041 in 2000, due to the...

 area of Fairfax County
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

, Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. 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 (46°37′36.54"N 68°1′16.66"W).


  • Builder: Ed Yost
    Ed Yost
    Paul Edward Yost was the American inventor of the modern hot air balloon and is referred to as the "Father of the Modern Day Hot-Air Balloon." He worked for a high altitude research division of General Mills when he helped establish Raven Industries in 1956.-Inventor:Born on a farm 7 miles...

    ; Tea, South Dakota
    Tea, South Dakota
    Tea is a city in Lincoln County, South Dakota, United States and is a suburb of Sioux Falls. The population was 3,806 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Tea is located at ....

  • Balloon: 160000 cu ft (4,530.7 m³) helium-filled; 112 ft (34.1 m) high, 65 ft (19.8 m) in diameter
  • Gondola: 15 × 7 × 4½ foot; name "The Spirit of Albuquerque"
  • Equipment: 1 VHF radio, 2 single sideband HF radios, 1 ADF beacon transmitter, 1 amateur band radio, 1 maritime radio, hookup to Nimbus 6 satellite.
  • Total weight: 760 lb (344.7 kg) empty
  • Take-off: 8:43 p.m. EDT - 11 August (00:42 UTC 12 August)
  • Landing: 7:49 p.m. Western Europe Summer Time - 17 August (17:48 UTC 17 August)
  • Total flight time: 137 hours, 6 minutes (5.7 days)
  • Lowest altitude: 3500 feet (1,066.8 m) - 13 August
  • Highest altitude: 24950 feet (7,605 m) - 16 August
  • Total distance: 4988 km (3,099.4 mi)

Previous attempts

Except for one attempt in 1958 from the Canary Islands, all left from somewhere in North America.

The first recorded attempt in 1873 traveled only 45 miles (72 km). The Rozière balloon
Rozière balloon
The Rozière balloon is a type of hybrid balloon that has separate chambers for a non-heated lifting gas as well as a heated lifting gas...

 balloon The Free Life
The Free Life
The Free Life was the name of the ill-fated Roziere balloon that made the fourth attempt at crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The balloon was launched from East Hampton, New York on 20 September 1970. The balloon was piloted by Malcolm Brighton, with Rodney Anderson and Pamela Brown on board.The...

(attempt #4), carrying Malcolm Brighton, Rodney Anderson, and Pamela Brown, vanished September 1970 in mid-Atlantic while attempting to fly from East Hampton, New York
East Hampton (town), New York
The Town of East Hampton is located in southeastern Suffolk County, New York, at the eastern end of the South Shore of Long Island. It is the easternmost town in the state of New York...

 to Europe. The superpressure balloon
Superpressure balloon
A superpressure balloon is a style of aerostatic balloon where the volume of the balloon is kept relatively constant in the face of changes in the temperature of the contained lifting gas. This allows the balloon to keep a stable altitude for long periods...

 Light Heart
Light Heart (balloon)
Light Heart was a balloon constructed by Colonel Thomas Leigh Gatch, Jr., USAR for an unsuccessful attempt at the first crossing of the Atlantic by balloon....

(attempt #6), carrying Colonel Thomas Leigh Gatch, Jr. USAR
United States Army Reserve
The United States Army Reserve is the federal reserve force of the United States Army. Together, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard constitute the reserve components of the United States Army....

, disappeared February 1974 after being sighted over the Atlantic while attempting the cross from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 49,528, making it the ninth largest city in Pennsylvania...

. The Spirit of Man (attempt #7) in 1974 suffered a balloon burst over the New Jersey coast, killing the rider.

The furthest reach yet was achieved by Yost in Silver Fox (attempt #10) in 1976, ditching east of the Azores as the wind carried him in the general direction of Western Sahara. The Double Eagle I
Double Eagle I
Double Eagle I was a helium balloon piloted by Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson in a failed attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1977. The balloon launched from Marshfield, Massachusetts on September 9. After being blown off course by stormy weather, the team was forced to ditch three miles off the...

 (attempt #11), in 1977, ditched west of Iceland, having looped to the east of Greenland.

The Zanussi (attempt #13) in 1978, by Don Cameron and Christopher Davey, came closest to success, ditching 110 miles (177 km) off of France after the gas bag ripped. They had planned another attempt but called it off when the Double Eagle II succeeded.

Total death toll is five, including those on the two flights that vanished.
Source of previous attempt information: National Geographic article, December 1978.
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