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Vera Simons Papers

Creator:
Simons, Vera  Search this
Extent:
23.5 Cubic feet ((22 boxes))
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Philately
Photographs
Newspaper clippings
Press releases
Color slides
Audiotapes
Reports
Date:
bulk 1960s-1980s
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of approximately 23 cubic feet of material relating to Vera Simons' ballooning and art careers. Types of materials include: newspaper articles, flight covers, photographs, slides, audio recordings, and reports relating to Simons' time with Winzen Research, inc. and her "Da Vinci" and "Aerolus" projects.
Biographical / Historical:
Vera Simons (1920-2012) played an important role in balloon development and exploration. Born in Germany, she grew up in Detroit, Michigan and married Otto Winzen; together they created Winzen Research Inc., one of world's first plastic balloon companies. Simons held over two-thirds ownership of the company and became its vice president. She supervised and trained her "balloon girls" to handle polyethylene and build the giant balloons, and obtained four patents for her work improving construction techniques and envelope redesign. During the 1950s and 1960s, Winzen created balloons for the United States Navy Projects Helios, Skyhook and Strato-Lab and for the United Sates Air Force Project Manhigh, and Simons was a central figure in planning and executing those manned research flights. Simons earned her gas balloon license in 1957 and she represented the United States at the 30th Annual International Gas Balloon Races in Holland where she received a gold medal for her contributions to balloon research. When Simons divorced Otto Winzen, she sold her interest in Winzen Research and enrolled in art school. By the early 1970s she had made a name for herself in international art circles by combining art and ballooning. In 1972, Simons began planning a series of balloon flights called "DaVinci" that combined science with original kinetic art. She spent two years designing and supervising the construction of a two-decker fiberglass gondola and an 11 story tall polyethylene balloon in which she eventually set a new overland distance record in the U.S. in 1979. During the same flight, Simons dropped tiny tetrahedron balloons carrying Douglas Fir seedlings into cleared areas, took time-lapse photographs, made sound recordings, and used mirrors to create special lighting effects in the clouds for the spectators on the ground. During other "DaVinci" flights, Simons collected temperature and airflow data, and tracked the mix and movement of urban air pollutants, while also photographing landscape and cloud images that she later used in producing works of art. In 1984 Simons launched another flight, "Project Aerolus," in which three plastic balloons were launched simultaneously into the nighttime sky; one of the balloons was piloted by Joe Kittinger.
Provenance:
Don Crowell, Gift, 2015
Restrictions:
No restrictions on access.
Rights:
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests
Topic:
Balloons  Search this
Kinetic art  Search this
Aeronautics  Search this
Genre/Form:
philately
Photographs
Newspaper clippings
Press releases
Color slides
Audiotapes
Reports
Citation:
Vera Simons Papers, Accession 2016-0013, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NASM.2016.0013
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nasm-2016-0013

Stratospheric Ballooning (Skyhook) Collection

Creator:
United States. Office of Naval Research  Search this
Names:
Project Helios  Search this
Project Skyhook  Search this
United States. Office of Naval Research  Search this
Vanguard (Artificial satellite)  Search this
Extent:
2.18 Cubic Feet ((2 records center boxes))
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Press releases
Clippings
Reports
Correspondence
Photographs
Date:
[ca. 1940s-1960s]
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of photographs, correspondence, reports, clippings and press kits, mostly centering on the following ballooning topics: Project Skyhook, Project Helios, Stratoscope I and II and Stratolab. There is also material on general ballooning events, the Vanguard satellite and the VTOL.
Biographical / Historical:
The stratospheric balloon flights of Auguste Piccard in 1931-1932 changed the way people thought about conquering the stratosphere and began a race to the stratosphere via the balloon which rivaled the race to the moon in the 1960s. The ballooning of the 1930s, including Auguste and Jean Piccards' work and the Explorer flights, led to Project Helios during the 1940s. Project Helios, in turn, led to Skyhook, Stratolab and modern scientific ballooning. These modern projects, i.e., Project Skyhook, allowed longer look times than sounding rockets and were far more economical. Furthermore, they were valuable in obtaining data for both scientific missions and military interests.
General:
NASMrev
Provenance:
Office of Naval Research, Gift, 1993, 1993-0050, Public Domain
Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Rights:
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests
Topic:
Rockets (Aeronautics)  Search this
Rockets, Sounding  Search this
Vertically rising aircraft  Search this
Balloons  Search this
Balloons, Sounding  Search this
Stratoscope I  Search this
Stratoscope II  Search this
Stratolab Program  Search this
Project Vanguard  Search this
Genre/Form:
Press releases
Clippings
Reports
Correspondence
Photographs
Identifier:
NASM.1993.0050
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nasm-1993-0050

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