Boston, Massachusetts – May 23, 1896
At 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, 1896, a balloon ascension was scheduled to take place at the Congress Street ball fields in Boston. The man advertised to fly the balloon was an aeronaut identified only as “Strickland”.
At the appointed time the balloon was to rise to an altitude of 5,000 feet where Strickland was to perform daring feats on a trapeze suspended beneath the balloon, and then drop using a parachute and land back on the ball fields. Unfortunately as the balloon was being filled with hot air it was accidentally set on fire and quickly eaten by the flames.
The crowd, of course, demanded a refund of their ticket money, which likely would have been done, however, some chose not to wait and started a riot. During the melee a dozen people were injured and Strickland himself, it was reported, “would have been killed but for the resistance of a squad of policemen.”
Source: Vermont Phoenix, “Massachusetts Notes – Balloon Ascended In Smoke”, May 29, 1896