Albert William Stevens
|Born||March 13, 1886|
Belfast, Maine, U.S.
|Died||March 26, 1949 (aged 63)|
Redwood City, California, U.S.
|Branch||Army Air Corps|
|Commands held||Explorer II|
|Wars||World War II|
While flying over South America in 1930, Stevens took the first photograph of the Earth in a way that the horizon's curvature is visible. To photograph through haze, Stevens often employed infrared-sensitive film for long-distance aerial photography.
On July 29, 1934, Stevens and two other Army Air Corps officers, Major William Kepner and Captain Orvil Arson Anderson, ascended in a specially-constructed balloon and gondola named Explorer I over north-western Nebraska in an attempt to exceed the current altitude record for manned flight. However, nearing the current record height, the balloon envelope ruptured, sending the gondola plunging to earth. Fortunately, all three crew were able to eventually exit and parachute to earth before the gondola crashed into a farm field.
On November 11, 1935, Stevens, along with Captain Anderson, made a record balloon ascent from the "Stratobowl" (a natural depression) near Rapid City, South Dakota. There were 20,000 spectators, while millions of people listened to a live NBC radio broadcast. Their sealed gondola Explorer II floated to 72,395 feet (22,066 m), nearly 14 miles (23 km), a world altitude record unequaled until 1946 and a balloon record unequaled until 1956.
Stevens was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross – one award for each of his two famous balloon flights.
He died on March 26, 1949, in Redwood City, California.
Flying at an altitude of five miles near the centre line of the eclipse zone, the aerial unit of the National Geographic Society's eclipse expedition, conducted by Captain Albert W. Stevens and Lieutenant Charles D. McAllister of the Army Air Corps, had an unobstructed view of the eclipse throughout totality. ...
Captain Orvil A. Anderson and Captain Albert W. Stevens declared here today that they are willing to take another trip into the stratosphere at any time, and are confident that on the next endeavor they will surpass their record fourteen-mile ascent.
The Hubbard Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society was presented by General Pershing tonight to Captain Albert W. Stevens and Captain Orvil A. Anderson of the Army Air Corps, in recognition of their ascent into the stratosphere on Nov. 11, when they reached an official altitude of 72,395 feet. ...