Ballooning takes off

After World War II, scientific ballooning grew as new synthetic materials became available for the balloon shells. Walt Roberts founded a balloon engineering group at NCAR in 1961, with Vincent Lally as its leader. In 1963, the group established a permanent ballooning facility near the local airport in Palestine, Texas, to take advantage of favorable prevailing winds and air traffic patterns. The first flight from the National Scientific Balloon Facility was made from the Palestine launch pad that same year, after several months of construction that produced a 6.5-acre paved launch area along with support facilities. NCAR operated the facility until 1987.