This Day In Aviation

  • 11 February 1914

    8–11 February 1914: Aeronaut Hans Rudolph Berliner and two others, Alexander Haase and A. Nicolai, departed Bitterfeld, Germany, aboard Berliner’s gas balloon. They were carried across the Baltic Sea and into Russia. After encountering rain storms, gale force winds and howling wolves, their balloon came to rest in deep snow near the town of Kirgischan in the Ural Mountains.

    In 47 hours, the men had traveled 3,052.7 kilometers (1,896.9 miles), setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Absolute Record for Distance.¹ This record remained unsurpassed until 1978.

    Hans Berliner’s balloon was described as being spherical and painted yellow. It had a volume of 2,250 cubic meters (79,458 cubic feet) and was inflated with hydrogen. Prior to this flight, the balloon had made more than 50 ascents.

    This photograph was taken before the start of the VIII° Gordon Bennett Cup race, 12 October 1913. The source names Hans Berliner and his co-pilot, Mann, but unfortunately does not say which is which. According to his grandson, Mikael Manstrom, Berliner is the man just to the left of center. (Bibliothèque nationale de France)