Item MC 376/420/1 - Recorded interview of General William Ellsworth Kepner, part 1 of 2 (side A of cassette)

Identity area

Reference code

MC 376/420/1


Recorded interview of General William Ellsworth Kepner, part 1 of 2 (side A of cassette)


  • 7 Sep 1970 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 side of audio cassette

Context area

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Relates to his stratospheric balloon flight with Captain Albert Stevens and Orvil A. Anderson, 28 Jul 1934. [00:00-05:00] Introduction by ?Raymond Strong. General Kepner describing background to his stratospheric balloon flight: proposal by Captain Albert Stevens; previous attempt by Hawthorne Gray in open basket, which resulted in his death from effects of low air pressure; comments on running laboratory tests with Gray; his own previous experience of balloon racing; Steven's plans to use a pressurized gondola to protect the crew and previous successful use of a gondola by Dr Jean Piccard. Comments on the project including sponsorship, role of the National Geographic society, the project programme, Steven's role as technical coordinator and his designation as pilot and commander. Describes technical difficulties of inflating a large balloon and search for suitable launch site. [05:00-10:00] Launch site continued: selection of Moonlight Valley, Rapid City, South Dakota; preparation of the site, from 20 May 1934; arrival of Captain Anderson as advanced agent and comments on inflation equipment. [10:00-15:00] Inflation equipment continued. Describes importance of weather forecasting, July 1934 and arrival of equipment, including the gondola, June 1934. Remarks on completion of preparatory work, 9 June 1934, christening the balloon 'Explorer' and visitors, including Amelia Earhart. Describes leisure activities attended whilst waiting for the correct weather conditions to launch. Anecdote about attending a rodeo with Stevens. Comments on training for balloon inflation and launch, 6 July 1934. [15:00-20:00] Training continued: testing conditions in the gondola, 7 July 1934. Comments on weather reports and inflating balloon, 27 July 1934. [20:00-25:00] Remarks on the size of the balloon and compares it to the Soviet's balloon. Comments on the flight, 28 July 1934, lowering the sunlight spectrograph and ascent to 57,000 ft. For continuation recording, see MC 376/420/2. This is a copy of an original audio recording which was made when General Kepner visited the American Air Force Museum in 1970. It appears to be available via the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

There is no public access to the original recording because of preservation reasons. All access is provided by the use of copies. Access to the copies is also restricted because of copyright/sensitivity issues.

Conditions governing reproduction

Restrictions apply. Contact NRO for details.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The quality of archive sound recordings may be poor. Duration is 28 minutes 54 seconds.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

This recording has been digitised. It can be listened to at the NRO only and not online. The NRO requires advance notice if you want to visit to listen to this recording.

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 15/01/2019 by Drojd. Modified 03/03/2020 by Drojd.


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places