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Iowa History Daily: June 30 - Ed Yost's Hot Air Balloon

Iowa History Daily: On June 30, 1919, Paul Edward Yost, “Father of the Modern Day Hot-Air Balloon” was born on a farm 7 miles south of Bristow, Iowa, in Butler County. An enthusiasm for reviving manned hot-air ballooning during the 1950s led Yost to fly the first prototype of a modern hot-air balloon featuring a plastic film envelope heated by kerosene.

After his Iowa childhood, Yost enrolled at the Boeing School of Aeronautics and graduated in 1940. His career started as a civilian employee of the Army working specifically on balloon technology. Notably, during the war he worked on a scheme to drop propaganda leaflets into enemy territory with a system utilizing a large balloon and dry ice.

In the post-war years, Yost headed to Alaska to work as a bush pilot before signing on with a research division at General Mills conducting research for the United States Navy. When the Navy contract ended, Yost struck out with three of his colleagues to form Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The firm focused on securing ballooning related military contracts.

By the end of his career, Yost held 26 distinct patents related to ballooning including equipment, inflation, body structures, and gondola designs. Building on a rich history of human ballooning dating back to a Parisian flight in November of 1783, swapping combustible hydrogen for propane served as the origination of Yost’s title as “The Father of the Modern Hot-Air Balloon. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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