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The Piccard Gondola

The Piccard Gondola was the centerpiece of the “greatest human drama” when Jean Piccard and his team tried to break the world altitude record at Chicago’s 1933 exposition, A Century of Progress.

While 50,000 people had gathered to watch this historic attempt, a leaky valve doomed the flight. The second flight on November 20, 1933 broke the world altitude record at 61,237 feet and took the first Americans into the stratosphere. On October 23, 1934, Jeannette Piccard became the first woman to reach the stratosphere when she piloted the gondola to 57,579 feet for its third and final flight, setting the women’s altitude record.