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October 2005

Vin Lally

Vin Lally

Vin Lally in the late 1960s, with a GHOST balloon transmitter.

One of NCAR's first staffers, Vin Lally died last month at the age of 82. 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.

Vin soon became a pioneer in the application and development of superpressure balloons for worldwide atmospheric measurements. In 1965, he helped launch the first GHOST (Global Horizontal Sounding Technique) balloon to circumnavigate the world. The GHOST balloons provided atmospheric measurements over the Southern Hemisphere. The longest flight lasted 744 days, circling 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 Ocean. He retired from NCAR as a senior scientist in 1991. He recalled his ballooning days with great affection, saying, "It's a nice way to make a living—getting paid for blowing up balloons."

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.

Vin received the American Meteorological Society's Cleveland Abbe Award for outstanding leadership in the development of scientific ballooning, as well as the Otto C. Winzen Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

"The word gentleman was coined for him," says EOL's Marcel Verstraete, who knew Vin for almost 50 years and worked with him on superpressure balloon projects. "Vin had a great scientific mind and great ethical standards. I think anyone who had an opportunity to work with him was very fortunate."

• by David Hosansky

Vin Lally - Award

Vin Lally in 2003 received the Otto C. Winzen Lifetime Achievment Award from Tim Lachenmeier of GSSL Inc., a balloon manufacturing company.

On the Web

Staff Notes Monthly article about Vin
Boulder Daily Camera obituary


Also in this issue...

NCAR hurricane work reaches new intensity

A visitor from New Orleans

SACNAS visitors

Taking command after Katrina

A day for girl scouts

Vin Lally

A first-class home for conferences

New HR Web system

bluevista doubles supercomputing capacity

New climate exhibit

Weathering the media coverage

Delphi Question

Just One Look


 

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