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|People of The Kalmar Union|
|The Kalmar Union|
Dr. Neil Armstrong was a Scottish aeronaut widely celebrated at home and abroad for his feats of exploration and endurance with both airships and traditional balloons.
He was born August 5, 1930 in the small Danish Australian town of Yarra to 2nd generation Scots/German settler Stephen Armstrong and 1st generation German settler Viola Engel. His family emigrated back to Scotland when he was 6, buying a small machine tools business with the profits of their sheep farm. Technically minded, the young Neil was captivated by ballooning and was soon building his own balloons, achieving his first free flight at the age of 14 with one he constructed in the family's workshop.
Attending Edinburgh Technical School he excelled at mathematics and engineering. By 1963 he was a lecturer there, having carved out a school of aeronautics for himself. Given free reign of the university's extensive workshop and laboratory he and his team of students built experimental balloons and airships, trying out new forms of gases, propulsion and aerodynamic designs. In 1969 he and one of his students, Donald MacArthur, took a balloon to 39,000 feet, a record still not equalled and one that would bring him European wide fame. He wrote; 'One more push and we would be in the void of space'. The severe cold and low pressure the two experienced led Neil to devote much of the next decade to researching how to pressurise a cabin or create a light-weight diving suit for high altitude flight but the university eventually removed funded for this, saying it there was no practical value in going higher.
In 1974 he was given freedom of the city of Hechingen in the Holy Roman Empire state of Hohenzollern where his grandfather had emigrated from, and when, five years later, the combustion engine was debuted in the same city Neil soon procured a version to power an airship. With this new device he and his team were soon battling several other airship developers to set speed and distance records, crossing the North Sea in 1980 and flying from Bristol to Vilnius in 1982.
He was knighted by Queen Alexandria in 1989 after he piloted the airship Osprey across the Atlantic single-handed. This would be followed up by several feats long distance flight including a flight over the North Pole in 1998. However the dream of flying around the world continued to eluded him and he admitted on his retirement that it was his biggest regret. Although several governments attempted to hire his services for military programs he eschewed them, dedicating the remainder of his life to teaching and attempting to realise his dream of a passenger carrying airship service.
He married Tilly Hooper, herself a keen aviatrix, in 1954 and had 7 children.
He died on August 25, 2012 after a heart attack.