Karl H. Stefan was born and raised in Nebraska. After an adventurous and exciting life, Karl’s last flight departed at age 102. He was predeceased by his wife Lucy, and is survived by five children, eleven grandchildren, and one great grandson.
Karl enlisted in the United States Navy after high school, was accepted at Annapolis Navel Academy, and graduated with the class of 1940. He was a pilot on the aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard during WWII. After an accident on landing, he spent a year recovering, including on a hospital ship being bombed by kamikazes. After the war, he went back to college to get an advanced degree in Aeronautical Engineering at the U of Minnesota. There he met his future wife, Lucy, the only woman in his class.
Karl enjoyed a lifetime of flying on fixed wing, helicopters and lighter-than-air. After retirement from the Navy, he conducted scientific ballooning research at NCAR in Boulder, CO. In the early 1970’s he set a world altitude record for hot air balloons, at 31,189 feet.
Karl was also one of the founders of The Balloon Works, a hot air balloon manufacturing company in Statesville, NC where they developed innovative new ballooning designs and technology.
Karl and Lucy’s passion was hot air and gas ballooning and they were very active in the ‘ballooning world’ in the US and internationally. They were inducted into the National Ballooning Hall of Fame in Indianola, Iowa in 2009.
Karl’s family, relatives, and friends will remember his zest for life, and living it fully.