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Operation Hi Ball collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0553

Scope and Contents

The Operation Hi Ball collection consists of the original 16mm footage from the event, as well as a DVD duplicate of the film and a CD of still photos from the event. The event was organized by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Photographic Sciences faculty and students in 1962. A remote controlled camera was attached to a balloon and released into the downtown Rochester skies.

Added to the collection is a DVD of original photographs taken by James Langone, another RIT Photo Tech student who participated in the event. The slideshow contains still photographs strung together and accompanied by music.


  • Creation: 1962


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Operation Hi Ball was officially organized by RIT Photo Tech students on Feb. 9, 1962, and took place on May 18, 1962 on RIT's downtown campus. The records don’t mention it, but the capsule/balloon, Z-2, was named, a bit tongue-in-cheek, after Professor Richard Zakia. Mike Geissinger, the donor of the collection, participated in the event as a student.

A group of enterprising photo students planned their own launch into near space using a large helium-filled weather balloon with a suspended, remote-controlled camera. The event drew a great deal of attention. Winnie Vaughn was named “Miss Hi-Ball.”

The balloon got off the ground and up in the air successfully as the crowds cheered, but soon it made an unscheduled landing atop of the church at the corner of Spring Street and Plymouth Avenue. This problem was compounded because the balloon carried an explosive detonator intended to collapse the balloon in case of emergency. Eventually, with police diverting rush-hour traffic, firemen were able to extricate the balloon.


.25 Linear Feet (1 half document box)




The Operation Hi Ball collection consists of the original 16mm footage of the event, as well as a DVD copy of the film, a slideshow set to music and still photos from the event conducted by RIT photography faculty and students in 1962.


Arranged by material type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the RIT Archive Collections in October 2014 by Mike Geissinger a former student of Rochester Institute of Technology and participant in the event.

Accession number: 2015:006

The 81 images and slideshow was donated to the RIT Archive Collections by James Langone in November 2014. Slide show by Langone and images by George Cochran and Mike Geissinger.


Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lisa Witt in January 2015.

Operation Hi Ball collection
RIT Archives
Lisa Witt
27 January 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA