Yost, Paul Edward

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 30 June 1919 Bristow, Iowa, USA
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American designer of balloons who reintroduced the hot-air balloon.
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After the early hot-air balloons of the Montgolfier brothers in the 1780s, this branch of ballooning was superseded by hydrogen, coal gas and helium balloons. Following the research by Auguste Piccard into cosmic radiation during the 1930s, a renewed interest in this branch of research arose in the United States from 1947 onwards, using helium-filled balloons. Modern plastics were available by this time, and polythene was used for the envelopes.
Paul E.Yost developed an improved form of envelope using nylon fabric laminated with mylar plastic film. This provided a strong impermeable material that was ideal for balloons. Using this material for the envelope, Yost produced the Vulcoon in 1960. He also reintroduced the use of hot air to inflate his balloon and developed an easily controlled gas burner fuelled by propane gas, which was readily available in cylinders for portable cooking stoves. Yost's company, Raven Industries, developed these very basic balloons as a military project. The pilot was suspended in a sling, but they improved the design by fitting wicker or aluminium baskets and turned to a market in the field of sport. After a slow start, hot-air ballooning became popular as a sport. In 1963 Yost made the first crossing of the English Channel in a hot-air balloon, accompanied by Donald Piccard, nephew of the balloonist Auguste Piccard, and Charles Dollfus, the eminent French aviation historian. Yost's attempt to cross the Atlantic in his balloon Silver Fox during 1976 failed and he was rescued from the sea near the Azores. The popularity of hot-air ballooning increased during the 1970s, and evolved into a very original form of advertising with unusual shapes for the envelopes, including a house, a bottle and an elephant.
JDS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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