Balloon tragedy

Here’s a photo from the November 11 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a man who passed away while trying to set an altitude record in a balloon.

Hawthorne C. Grey (1889-1927) made several attempts to set altitude records during 1927:

  • On March 9, he set an unofficial record of 28,510 feet. He passed out while up that high, and regained consciousness in time to slow the fall of his balloon as it descended.
  • On May 4, he reached 42,470 feet, but parachuted out at 8000 feet because his balloon was descending too quickly. According to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, this disqualified him from achieving the altitude record, as the balloonist had to land inside the actual balloon.
  • On November 4, Grey made it to somewhere between 43,000 and 44,000 feet, but lost consciousness and was found dead in the balloon the next day. It is still not entirely clear what caused his death. His last journal entry was “Sky deep blue, sun very bright, sand all gone.”

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