Looking back at the Explorer I balloon, which crashed 90 years ago in a cornfield near Loomis

WHAT: Brown Bag Lecture Series

HOSTED BY: UNK Department of History

TITLE: “The Stratospheric Rise and Explosive Fall of the Explorer I Balloon, 1934”

Nathan Tye
Nathan Tye

TOPIC: On July 28, 1934, Americans were fixed to their radios following the Explorer expedition as it attempted to reach the stratosphere in a state-of-the-art balloon. Sponsored by the Army Air Corps and National Geographic Society, the expedition hoped to prove humans could survive in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, demonstrating the future feasibility of space travel. When the balloon tore and exploded, the three-man crew leapt to safety 5,000 feet above Loomis, Nebraska. Come learn about this overlooked aviation milestone and Explorer’s place within aviation and space race history.

PRESENTER: Nathan Tye is the assistant professor of Nebraska and American West history at UNK, where he’s taught since 2019. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and his research focuses on the lives of migrant laborers, better known as hobos, and their efforts to survive on society’s margins. Tye serves on the boards of several local community museums and cultural organizations, and his research is published in Nebraska History, Annals of Iowa and Willa Cather Review. He also appeared on NBC’s celebrity genealogy program “Who Do You Think You Are?”

TIME: Noon

DATE: Wednesday, July 10

PLACE: Kearney Public Library, 2020 First Ave.

VIDEO: Available on the Kearney Public Library YouTube channel

CONTACT: Nathan Tye, assistant history professor, 308.865.8860, tyen@unk.edu