Kallquist’s article in the November BREEZE, “Not
Many Years Ago,” brought back many memories of the kite
stations. The most pleasant of these are the associations
with congenial and interested young men. In the number who
came and went there were only three that did not fit in. They
did not last long, for the other members of the force made
it plain that they did not belong. Most of the kite station
men entered the Weather Bureau at the kite stations and left
there prepared to take up any phase of Weather Bureau work
elsewhere. The kite stations were also responsible for interesting
young men in their vicinity in Weather Bureau work, even though
they did not always get positions on the neighboring kite
personal experience covered three kite stations, of which
Due West was outstanding. They were all located near small
towns, and all the men experienced – and most of them
enjoyed – the quiet small town life of 15 to 25 years
ago. Due West is a small college town, with all the native
southern hospitality, and with a strong religious and cultural
background. None who stayed any length of time on the Due
West station escaped the effects of this environment.
box kites as used at Mount Weather Observatory. In:
"Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture.
1906." 1907, p. 122.
of the Due West men covered a lot of territory after they
left Due West. Mr. Kallquist spent a winter or two on Greenland;
Harrison went to the South Pole with Byrd; Andrus, to Europe
in free balloon racing; W.P. Long, to Brazil to establish
kite stations there. The others are scattered all over the
country. Harrison handled pilot balloons and kites from temperatures
of 105 above to 60 below, and Kallquist’s range was
about the same. Andrus went high enough in a balloon to see
both ends of Lake Erie at one time, and then fell 5000 feet
when the balloon burst. All this before high-flying aeroplanes!
Kallquist modestly refrained from telling in his article of
some of his exploits. In a section where the men were predominantly
brunette, Kall, with his light hair and military carriage,
always stood out. After he joined us, there were always girls
along the edge of the Woman’s College campus to see
him go by. However, he and Andrus ignored the under-graduates
and concentrated on the faculty. Kall was lightning on the
getaway. His World War I experience in the Navy had taught
him the value of starting as soon as, or sooner than, anyone
else. When the steering gear of the station car locked, and
the car went down a 10-foot embankment and crashed on the
rocks below, he was out of the car before it hit bottom, and
waiting for the rest of us on the roadway when we crawled
out of the wreck. The only casualty was Stevenson. He had
a bruised face where Kall stepped on it getting out. He had
a keen sense of humor. When he lifted a watermelon, he always
picked a green one. To keep out of such trouble we planted
a small patch of melons in a corner of the kite field, and
then the local farmers got even with us. When Kall found he
could not get rich in Due West he left us for Savannah. He
must have liked us, for he sent enough red snapper and shrimp
for a big feed for all of us. Shrimp were a revelation to
most of us, for we had never eaten them before.
was never slow on a kite station. In addition to the work
there were always other duties, such as painting of buildings,
repairing of mechanical equipment including the station car,
rebuilding of terraces on the field, and always the repairing
and construction of kites. Pilot balloon work, both single
and 2-theodolite, and captive and sounding balloon work were
other features of the upper air research. The computations
of the 2-theodolite runs were a pain in the neck for everyone,
and we made many of those runs.
weather always made trouble, for the kites could not stand
rain and high winds. Thunderstorm experiences were sometimes
frightening and dangerous. Static, ranging from 1000 to ore
than 50,000 volts, made the handling of kites difficult even
with heavy lineman’s gloves. Many of the men were severely
shocked while landing kites during thunderstorms. Stevenson
and Andrus once, when the kites were caught in a thunderstorm,
watched a ball of fire roll down the kite wire to the reel-house,
roll in over the reel and the motor, and burst under Steve’s
feet when he jumped in the air to avoid being struck by the
ball. Several of the men carried small scars for years where
the molten kite wire struck them when lightning destroyed
the wire. Twenty-four to 36-hour kite flights, and occasionally
48- to 72- hour runs left the entire force worn out when the
weather turned bad.
years of my Weather Bureau life were taken up with kite work.
When I began the work, I could run as fast or faster than
anyone on the station, and running was necessary lots of time.
I have in my personal file a record of all the kite flights
I was interested in from 1919 to 1932, and every once in a
while I get that record out and look it over. No matter what
that record says I had a good time, and I am sure that, with
few exceptions, and in spite of my shortcomings, the men who
worked with me did also.
“The BREEZE”, Vol. 4, No. 11, December 10, 1945.