Local Balloonist and Aviator Killed in Ballooning Accident

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Local Balloonist and Aviator Killed in Ballooning Accident
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Julian Nott (Photo: Fritz Olenberger)

By edhat staff

Local balloonist and world-record aviator Julian Nott has died after a ballooning accident in San Diego County.

Nott, a British native who settled in Santa Barbara, was known as one of the founders of the modern ballooning movement. He's credited for changing the course of balloon history with the development of an entirely new system in which conventional ballast is replaced with cryogenic helium.

He has broken 79 World Ballooning Records and 96 British Records including exceeding 55,000 feet in a hot air balloon. Nott also pioneered the use of hybrid energy for lift, where solar power is a significant heat source, and in 1981 he crossed the English Channel.

Nott died in a hospital Tuesday after suffering serious injuries “from an extraordinary and unforeseeable accident” involving an experimental balloon in the Warner Springs area east of the Cleveland National Forest. The aviator’s death was announced Wednesday on his website. 

Nott had successfully flown and landed when there was a malfunction with his basket and he suffered multiple head injuries, family members said. Nott had invented the experimental balloon, which used cryogenic helium and was meant to explore high altitude technology.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has described Julian as “a central figure in the expansion of ballooning as an organizer, pilot, and most of all as arguably the leading figure to apply modern science to manned balloon design.

”He is survived by his partner of 30 years, Santa Barbara-based artist Anne Luther, his brother Robert Nott, and nieces Elizabeth Salmon and Katherine Nott survive Julian. Interment will be in the Nott Family Plot in England.

In lieu of flowers, Julian’s wishes were for donations to his favorite charity, SEE International, www.seeintl.org.

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Juli Shulem Apr 05, 2019 08:06 AM
Local Balloonist and Aviator Killed in Ballooning Accident

An amazing man, scientist, pilot, and mentor. Julian never stopped living and reaching new heights - literally. He was charming, compassionate, and brilliantly creative. He achieved a dream and goal just before the tragic accident - which had nothing to do with the air balloon flight. He led a significant and wonderful life and left an imprint on everyone who knew him. So sad he died so soon. He will be so very missed by me and so many others.

Levi Mar 29, 2019 09:00 PM
Local Balloonist and Aviator Killed in Ballooning Accident

I came to know Julian personally through my high-altitude balloon research activities with students at Anacapa School in Santa Barbara and as a fellow aviator based out of Santa Barbara Airport. Although Julian was usually the most interesting person in the room, he was gifted at making others, particularly my students and me, feel empowered and important. It was an honor and pleasure to know him. His passing leaves a void not only in Santa Barbara and The Explorers Club but in the world.

macpuzl Mar 28, 2019 06:36 PM
Local Balloonist and Aviator Killed in Ballooning Accident

Julian was a very gracious and modest man. He gave a couple of talks to the Astronomical Unit, about projects he was working on with NASA for a balloon mission to Titan, and his Nazca balloon. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

tagdes Mar 28, 2019 08:16 PM
Local Balloonist and Aviator Killed in Ballooning Accident

Not exactly, as stated he had safely landed but they were clearing the landing site and during cleanup the capsule accidentally turned over and rolled down the mountainside with him inside it.

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