March 1931: Hanging Eye Test

1931: ARMY AIR SERVICE THRILLED AT SUCCESS OF “HANGING EYE” TEST STORY LINE: Army Air Service successfully demonstrates the practicality of an observation car dropped on a cable from a blimp hidden in the clouds. Army Lieutenants Paul and McCracken, in trials, are lowered in tiny car attached by cable to blimp and telephone to craft above, in one of the most stirring tests in aviation history. SCRIPT: “That little basket is the same to the Army blimp as a periscope is to a Navy submarine. It’s the new eye of the air and the theory is that when the blimp’s above the clouds the observer’ll be lowered and remains invisible to watchers from the ground. They, naturally, are looking for a blimp and not an acrobat. Up in the air all is activity. They’ve reached enemy territory. Presumably, a battery of heavy guns is doing a lot of damage and the blimp has been assigned to spot its location. The observer goes over the side into the gondola and is lowered by means of winches aboard the blimp. A telephone connects the car with the dirigible, and the observer is supposed to report enemy activity. This information is transmitted to headquarters on the ground by radio and the High Command knows just what’s going on. In case of alarm or when the watch is over, the winches go on the job again and the observer’s hauled back. And the speed of the hauling back depends on the reason for the hauling. It’s a marvelous idea. But I don’t know what good it is in peacetime. At that it might help the prohibition boys--so don’t do what you shouldn’t do--you might find someone peeking in at your window…” Location: Langley Field, VA; Release Date: 03/02/31 (1:22)

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