[The balloonist John] Wise had made roughly four hundred flights "and had had all manner of thrilling adventures," [the Swedish aeronaut S.A.] Andrée wrote. "He had flown with [balloons] in sunshine, rain, snow, thunder showers and hurricanes. He had been stuck on chimneys, smoke stacks, lightning rods and church spires, and he had been dragged through rivers, lakes, and over garden plots and forests primeval. His balloons had whirled like tops, caught fire, exploded and fallen to the ground like stones. The old man himself, however, had always escaped unhurt and counted his experiences as proof of how safe the art of flying really was.

"In order to convince a few fellow citizens who had been inconsiderate enough to doubt his thesis, Mr. Wise once made an ascent in Philadelphia, and while in mid-air he deliberately exploded his balloon. Then using the remains of the bag as a parachute he landed right in the midst of the doubters. What effect this had on them I do not know, but the old man himself felt better."


Not long after that Andrée fell sick with an intestinal complaint that he believed was caused by drinking ice water, but may have been from his living mostly on cake, candy, and ice cream, according to his journals. Having stayed five months in Philadelphia, he went back to Sweden.

(alec wilkinson, from the ice balloon: s.a. andrée and the heroic age of arctic exploration)


Cara said...

What a truly wonderful fellow. 

kidchamp said...

strange timing, my reading of s.a. andrée; this morning i got an email about an indiegogo campaign in which a bunch of dudes are taking a rowboat to the arctic circle.