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eXtreme Altitude Project
Content for the Working Media
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Please Note That the Media, Student and Balloonist Portals, above, are not active.

For a new presentation of the XAP, please go to

  Link to XAP Bulletin Board


• Don Piccard's Personal Page
• Notes for Teachers
• Timeline for Tests
• Sponsors Honor Roll


Tubular Gore Balloon Design
Novel approach to  skin stress will permit inflation and launch of the extreme altitude  craft.  This is  the secret of XAP's design advance.   Models pictured show radical geometry.

• XAP Mascot "PAX"Selected

Questions ????

Don flies hydrogen in France in 2003


Cover Design for Preliminary Flight Announced

Click for Slides

Note: To browse site, please click on any underlined item.
ACME joins XAP as a major sponsor

 Sheldahl test      results promising

  Balloon  mail ready 
Cabin design developing. Unique sealing technique. Will fly on tests.
Meteorologist Joins Team XAP

The launch of a 2,000 foot tall balloon cluster requires precise monitoring and forecasting to ensure the safety of the vehicle.

Just how high is the mesosphere?  What IS the mesosphere ? XAP target is over 150,000 feet altitude.

Click for some "Definitions".

Sheldahl joins XAP Team

The company that made the Echo satellite balloon is now  providing Mylar balloon  engineering expertise.


For The Aircraft's Cabin: A five foot (six foot, if an observer joins the team)  . 

spun aluminum cabin by Acme Metal Spinning Co continues the Johnston family tradition of space craft fabrication skills.

Own a Piece of History

Souvenir Balloon Mail.  We will carry balloon mail on the mission.  Click to find out how you can get one.  There is a surprise bonus for early reservations and a few are still left...


Don Piccard continues his family's tradition of research. The Piccards have been called "The most celebrated scientific exploring familyof the Twentieth Century". It is a complicated family tree, but this should show "Who's on First":

Jules Piccard
Jules Piccard
Father of the Identical Twins, Jean & Auguste 
  Jacques Piccard
Jacques Piccard
Son of Auguste, All-time Oceanic Depth Record Challenger Deep, 1961
  Auguste Piccard
Auguste Piccard
First Man into the Stratosphere, May 1931, 51,775 ft.
  Jeannette Piccard Jeannette Piccard  First Lady in Space, Oct. 1934 57,579 ft.
Jean Piccard
Jean Piccard
Inventor of The Plastic Balloon and The Cluster Balloon
  Bertrand Piccard
Bertrand Piccard
Son of Jacques, Global Balloon Flight
  Jean-Luc Picard
Jean Luc Picard
  Don Piccard
Don Piccard
Son of Jean and Jeannette
Don Piccard is credited as being the father of modern sport hot-air ballooning. Here are more of Don Piccard's many accomplishments

Husband and wife record
In 1934, husband and wife team Jean and Jeannette Piccard (parents of XAP pilot Don Piccard) reached the recorded altitude of 57,579 feet


Don Piccard launches  G.T. Schjeldahl Co. balloon, the "Golden Bear", on his  official F.A.I. World Class Record gas flight to 34,642 ft., July19,1961 Don used an open basket with a liquid oxygen converter provided by Pioneer Central Division of the Bendix Corporation.

World Absolute Record for balloons? 

The flight will be sanctioned with the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and Federation Aeronautic International (FAI) for homologation as the World Balloon Absolute Altitude Record. 

We will do this  even though it will be far different from any previous tropospheric or stratospheric ascension and will utilize aerostatic apparatus hardly recognizable as a balloon, apparently not fitting into any of the officially recognized categories.

While the object and motivation for XAP is not an FAI Record, per se, nor even a Guinness Book World Record, the flight will far surpass any previous efforts.  This flight, into the base realms of "Space", will exit the stratosphere and penetrate well into the mesosphere for the first time by any non-powered craft. That sovereign territory of the limitless space world has previously only had transitory visitors , or been passed through, by rocket planes and orbiting spacecraft. XAP will linger there for the first time.

To characterize this expedition merely as a record attempt would trivialize the real value and intent.


Email to Don Piccard:



o                                                                                                        Breitling :

o                                                                                                        Brian Jones :

o                                                                                                        Solar Impulse :

o                                                                                                        Winds of Hope :

o                                                                                                        Don Piccard :



Congratulations to Cousin Dr. Bertrand Piccard on his 2005 Lindbergh Foundation Award for his work with the Winds of Hope project. 

XAP is a private non-government research effort that will depend on private contributions.  XAP will be pleased to cooperate with any appropriate commercial or research entity that would like to be involved.  Title sponsorship opportunities are open.


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Thanks for visiting XAP.

   Feel free to check out "Seven Star Balloons", for a fun version of this serious project by clicking here..

Burt Rutan, Willie Piccard, Don Piccard, Michelle Piccard, Bertrand Piccard and Eric Lindbergh at the Golden Wings Museum. ...

Photograph taken by, and through  the courtesy of, John Craparo, League Administrator, International Aeronauts League

Revised  9/7/2008   Site 2000, 2008 New Page 1