Double Eagle II
August 17, 1978 - Today was the day that three men conquered one of the most sought-after feats in aviation history. Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman crossed the Atlantic in a helium balloon called the Double Eagle II.
The three Americans had been aloft for 137 hours and 6 minutes. They had taken off from the town of Presque Isle near the tip of Maine. After 6 days of weathering extremely cold temperatures inside a cramped gondola, the crew received a radio transmission confirming that they had crossed into Irish air space. Originally the plan was for Newman to hang glide down to the ground, but his glider had to be jettisoned as the balloon was losing altitude.
Instead of risking touchdown at Le Bourget Airfield (the site of Charles Lindberg's historic landing), the crew opted to set down in a barley field 60 miles north of Paris. They were immediately mobbed by passing motorists.
You can see the Double Eagle II's historic gondola on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.