UCAR Communications


staff notes monthly

March 2003

Vin Lally wins prestigious ballooning award

NCAR retiree Vin Lally, a pioneer in the application and development of superpressure balloons for worldwide atmospheric measurements, has won a lifetime achievement award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“I’m very pleased, of course, and also a little surprised,” Vin says. “I didn’t know I had been nominated.”

Vin will receive the Otto C. Winzen Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at a 25 March ceremony in the FL1 ATD atrium. The award, named for a pioneer of modern ballooning, recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement of free-flight balloon systems or related technologies.

Vin came to NCAR in 1961 at the invitation of the center’s first director, Walter Orr Roberts, to establish a National Scientific Balloon Facility. The launch facility was located in Palestine, Texas, and is still in business, although it is now operated by NASA. Vin then became involved in the Global Atmospheric Measurements Program (GAMP) to develop long-duration superpressure balloons to provide atmospheric measurements over the Southern Hemisphere.

In 1965 the GAMP group launched the first GHOST (Global Horizontal Sounding Technique) balloon to circumnavigate the world. The longest superpressure balloon flight was 744 days, circling the Earth some 31 times.

An Army Air Corps veteran, Vin became involved with balloons as a meteorologist and radar officer during World War II, when he tracked radiosonde balloons to measure winds over the Pacific.

Vin retired in 1991, but he recalls his ballooning days with great affection. “It’s a nice way to make a living—getting paid for blowing up balloons,” he points out.

In his decades at NCAR, Vin also worked on numerous instrumentation projects. These included a balloon-borne dropsonde, anchor balloon systems (which use a second, inverted balloon to act as a ballast for a superpressure balloon), a shipboard launching system, a reference radiosonde, and the Cross-chain Loran Atmospheric Sounding System (CLASS) for research into wind data. He also promoted the use of Global Positioning System technology for superpressure balloons. •David Hosansky

Also in this issue...

Archives launching instrument collection

A smooth ride to Juneau:
RAP maps wind shear and turbulence at isolated airport

Short takes

A special evening with an intimate of the atmosphere

Delphi Question: PTO, health benefits, and diversity training

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