During the spring of 1924, U.S. Weather Bureau meteorologist LeRoy Meisinger conducted a series of experiments with a free balloon to determine the trajectories of air around extratropical cyclones. The 10th flight in the series ended with a crash of the balloon overcentral Illinois. Both Meisinger and the pilot, Army Air Services Lt. James Neely, were killed.An effort has been made to reconstruct this accident using information from a review article by early twentieth-century meteorologist Vincent Jakl and newspaper accounts of the accident. The principal results of the study follow.Meisinger's balloon was caught in the downdraft of a newly developed thunderstorm over the Bement, Illinois, area on the evening of 2 June;a hard landing took place in a cornfield just north of Bement, and loss of ballast at the hard-landing site was sufficient to cause the balloon to rise again; andafter rebounding from the ground, the balloon with the two aeronauts aboard was struck by lightning. A fire resulted that burned through the netting and led to a crash four miles northeast of the hard-landing site.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Feb 22, 1995