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Giant balloon

Here’s a photograph from the November 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a large balloon in an even larger hangar in Akron, Ohio.

The balloon was named Century of Progress, after the trade show of that name that was held in Chicago in the summer of 1933. And, on the day that this photograph appeared in the newspaper, Thomas G. W. “Tex” Settle (1895-1980) helped set a world altitude record in the balloon, reaching a verified height of 61,237 feet.

Settle, a United States Navy officer who had been piloting airships and balloons, asked to be transferred back to sea duty in 1934. He commanded the USS Portland during the latter part of the Second World War. After the war, he served in various roles, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral. His ambition was to become the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, which he did not achieve.

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