Julian Nott, who had been a FRIN, died in March, aged 74. He was a balloonist and scientist who set 79 World and 96 British records, among them reaching an altitude of 55,137 ft in a hot-air balloon.
After gaining a MSc in Physical Chemistry at St John’s College, Oxford, he became fascinated with ballooning, acquiring one of the first British balloon pilot’s licences.
Applying his science and engineering background, his many achievements included building the first hot air balloon with a pressurised cabin, taking it to a world record altitude; he also made the first balloon crossings of the Sahara and Australia. He also traversed the Alps and piloted the world’s first solar balloon across the English Channel. He was also the first person to fly a ‘pumpkin’ super pressure balloon, a concept being developed by NASA, and had been developing a system in which conventional balloon ballast is replaced with cryogenic helium. He also worked on airships.
Latterly, he had been a professor at Cal Tech and the University of California. He was an Honorary Life Member of the governing body of St John’s College, a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Fellow of the RIN, RGS and the Explorers Club.
When he died, Julian Nott had been flying an experimental balloon that he had invented to test high-altitude technology. He landed the balloon, with its pressurised cabin, on the side of a mountain at Warner Springs, N of San Diego, California. After landing, he was inside the cabin packing up when it tumbled down the mountain with him inside, causing injuries from which he did not recover.