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Balloon book-signing set Monday at Cultural Heritage Center

PIERRE -- Arley Fadness will sign copies of his recently published book "Balloons Aloft: Flying South Dakota Skies" from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

"South Dakota has been a major player in ballooning worldwide. Arley Fadness has witnessed many of the great moments in ballooning that made history in South Dakota," said Michael Lewis, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation.

The foundation is coordinating the book signing and is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Fadness, 76, is a retired Lutheran clergyman who lives in Custer. He was trained as a draftsman at the Boeing Airplane Company in Seattle while he went to college. He applied for a job and was hired as a draftsman by Ed Yost. Yost invented the modern hot air balloon.

Fadness served as chaplain at the 50th anniversary celebration of Explorer II that had been launched from the Stratobowl near Rapid City in 1935. He was present when granite markers were placed at the north rim of the Stratobowl to commemorate several historic balloon flights launched there.

Some of the highlights of the book:

  • A number of significant scientific hot air balloon flights originated in South Dakota.
  • The story of Lt. Harlow Neibling of Huron, who shot down a German Fokker with his Colt .45-caliber revolver as he parachuted from his burning, falling observation balloon in World War I.
  • Eight Japanese bombs attached to weather balloons and released into the jet stream to cross the Pacific Ocean during World War II landed in South Dakota. A balloon bomb that landed south of Ree Heights is displayed in the museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center.