MEDIA RELEASE:                                                                 September 2000
(For immediate release)




Born July 28th 1916 in Omaha, NB. Officer, pilot, engineer and balloon pilot and LTA engineer.

Officer in U.S. Navy from 1935. Graduated U.S. Naval Academy 1940. Pilot (aeroplanes and helicopters). Master degree (Aero-Engineering) University of Minnesota 1945. Research and Development Administrator U.S. Navy. Retired 1960. LTA engineer for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Research Engineer for "The Balloon Works", "The Tyler Airship Company" and "The ILC-Dover projects".

Karl Stefan made his first gas balloon flight 1956 and his first hot air balloon flight 1961.

On 9th June 1971, Karl Stefan set a new World Altitude record in class AX8 with 9,506 meters (31,189 ft). His research before that flight was made
available to fellow aeronauts in a report, "Performance Theory For Hot Air Balloons", published in ballooning magazines and LTA-symposiums. He also helped other pilots set altitude records, both in gas and hot air balloons.

From 1979 Karl Stefan was the US delegate to the FAI International Ballooning Commission, CIA. He was Vice President from 1981 to 1983
and for many years also member of a number of sub-committees. He has been the chairman of the CIA Records Review Subcommittee since

For a record period of 10 years, from 1984 to 1994, Karl Stefan was the President of the CIA. During this time he was a very active, able and
popular president. He initiated the present structure of the CIA with several subcommittees doing the work under his leadership between the
annual plenary meetings. He also initiated the CIA Newsletter through which important information was circulated to aeronauts around the World.

Karl Stefan was awarded the Montgolfier Diploma for the year 1971.



Anne-Jean Robert, (aîné, the elder). 1758-1820.
Marie-Noël Robert, (cadet, the younger). 1760-1820.

The Robert brothers were skilled mechanical constructors. They helped professor Jacques Alexandre César Charles build the first usable
hydrogen balloons. Charles knew about the work of Cavendish, Black and Cavallo, and realised that hydrogen would make a suitable lifting
agent. The problem was to find a airtight and light gas container. The brothers had found a method to dissolve rubber in turpentine. This mixture
was used to varnish the silk used to construct the envelopes of the balloons (The silk was red and white but when rubberised, the white parts
changed to light yellow).

August 27, 1783 Professor Charles and the Robert brothers publicly demonstrated a 35 m3 hydrogen balloon - a rubberised silk sphere. This
was the first free flight by a gas balloon. The balloon was launched from Champ de Mars, Paris. It quickly rose to high altitude and landed in
Gonesse (15 km NE Paris) where scared villagers attacked the "monster from space".

December 1st, 1783. The younger brother, Marie-Noël Robert, accompanied professor Charles on the first human flight in a gas balloon. The
"charlière" contained 380 m3 hydrogen and was launched from "Le jardin des Tuileries" in Paris at 13.45. They landed in Nesle-La-Vallée after
a 2 hour 5 minute flight covering 36 km.

July 15th, 1784. Both brothers together with Collin-Hullin and the Duke of Chartres made a flight in an elongated balloon, "La Caroline", with an
internal ballonet. They tried to control direction with oars. No valve was fitted. The duke had to slash the ballonet to prevent rupture. The flight
lasted 45 minutes. The balloon may have reached 4,500 meters altitude. After take-off in St. Cloud they landed in Meudon.

September 19th, 1784 the brothers together with Collin-Hullin made another flight in an elongated hydrogen balloon. This time they tried to
control direction with parasols. The flight lasted 6 hours 40 minutes and was the first flight over 100 km (186 km in a straight line) from Paris to
Beuvry near Bethune.

The balloons constructed for prof. Charles had all the attributes still found today in modern gas balloons. The envelope was covered with a net from
which the car was suspended, the envelope had a valve fitted and the balloon carried ballast in the form of sand to control altitude.

Citations compiled from various sources by Hans Åkerstedt, April 2000

FAI Home Page] - [Ballooning Commission Home Page]
Other sport ballooning documents.

Thank you for visiting our Web site.
For information and suggestions contact (

Access to the FAI Web Site is governed by the terms and conditions which can be read by clicking here.