North Hero, VT – October 25, 1920

North Hero, Vermont – October 25, 1920


     At 4:30 p.m. on October 23, 1920, a race involving seven balloons left Birmingham, Alabama, all competing for the Gordon Bennett International Trophy For Free Balloons.  The declared winners were Belgian army lieutenants Ernest De Muyter, and Mathieu La Brousse, who sailed 1100 miles in their balloon, “Belgica”.

     After being in the air for 40 hours, De Muyter and La Brousse found themselves heading in a westerly direction away from upstate New York and out over Lake Champlain and towards Vermont.  While over the lake, the balloon began loosing altitude and dropped into the frigid water about a mile off the western shore of North Hero Island.  Neither man had a life preserver so they stayed with the balloon which was being pushed across the choppy water by strong winds. 

     The plight of the men was witnessed by Henry A. Hazen from his shoreline home, and he set out with a canoe to rescue them.  The winds were still pushing the balloon towards shore, so when Henry reached it, the men decided to stay with it, and before long it was in water shallow enough for them to wade the rest of the way.

     The men were brought into the Hazen household and offered warm blankets and refreshments.      


     The Barre Daily Times,(VT.), “Belgica Won Balloon Race”, October 26, 1920     

     The Barre Daily Times, (VT.), “Racing Balloon In Lake Champlain”, October 26, 1920

Rutland, VT. – September 6, 1916

Rutland, Vermont – September 6, 1916 

Rutland Fairgrounds

Balloon ascending with parachute attached to the side.

     On the afternoon of September 6, 1916, Samuel A. Libby, 38, was giving a balloon-parachute exhibition at the Rutland Fairgrounds.  Libby’s demonstration involved four parachutes, each to be used in succession of each other, thereby giving a more thrilling performance.  When the hot-air balloon had reached an altitude of 1,500 feet over the fairgrounds he cut away with the four parachutes.  As Libby made his descent, the first three chutes deployed properly, but the fourth failed to open and he was killed.

     His remains were reportedly sent to Oakland, Maine.  It was further mentioned that he was single, and had belonged to the Loyal Order of Moose.

     The day following the accident, a replacement for Libby was found.  18-year-old Freemont Ross of Rutland agreed to jump from the same balloon using a single parachute, which he did successfully.  It was noted that this was his first time in a balloon. 

Update, March 14, 2017

     According to The Bennington Evening Farmer, Mr. Libby was 44-years-old, and was survived by two sisters.  When his parachute failed to open, he reportedly landed on property located on Phillips Avenue.   


     Burlington Weekly Free Press, (Burlington, VT.), “Balloonist Fall; Meets His death At Rutland fair”, September 7, 1916 

     The Bennington Evening Farmer, (Bennington, VT.), “Parachute Jump At Rutland Was Fatal”, September 7, 1916

     The Bennington Evening Banner, (Bennington, VT.), “Boy Makes Balloon Ascent”, September 9, 1916

St. Johnsbury, VT. – September 11, 1914

St. Johnsbury, Vermont – September 11, 1914

Caledonia County Fair

     balloonOn September 11, 1914, the last day of Vermont’s annual Caledonia County Fair, a hot air balloon unexpectedly landed on the boardwalk in front of the grand stand where several persons happened to be standing.  Three ladies were injured when the balloon came down on top of them, the most serious being a 66 – year-old woman who suffered a scalp laceration and bruises to the face.  She was transported unconscious to Brightlook Hospital for treatment.  It was reported that she was expected to recover.   

     No further details were given.

     Source: The Bennington Evening Banner, “Accident At Caledonia Fair”, September 16, 1914

Updated October 6, 2016

     The accident occurred while Harold Cates of Boston was giving a parachute exhibition.  He’d ascended in the balloon alone, and at the proper altitude, jumped with his parachute, and landed safely on the field.  The unmanned balloon came down upon the boardwalk.   


     The Burlington Weekly Free Press, “2:24 Pace Is A Feature Of Fair At St. Johnsbury”, September 17, 1914     



Hyde Park, VT – July 4, 1873

Hyde Park, Vermont – July 4, 1873


    balloon On the afternoon of July 4, 1873, Professor Frank K. King, son of the famous aeronaut Samuel A. King, made a balloon ascension from the fair grounds near Morrisville, Vermont.  The balloon sailed away and was in the air for slightly more than an hour when it unexpectedly came down in a wilderness area somewhere near the town line between Eden and Hyde Park.   

     King climbed down from his balloon but had no idea of his exact location, or in which direction he should begin walking.  He set out on a course he hoped would bring him out of the woods, but after hiking for a good length of time found himself back at his balloon.   He spent two days and two nights in the woods without food or shelter before he met up with a search party that was looking for him.   

     Source: Orleans County Monitor, “Fourth Of July Balloon Ascension At Morrisville”, July 14, 1873.  

Updated January 25, 2017

     When King and his balloon were about two-and-a-half miles up he encountered a snow storm.  The snow and ice coated the balloon adding weight and forcing it down.  The number of searchers was said to be five hundred men. 

    Source:, The Somerset Herald, (Somerset PA.), “Balloon Adventure”, July 16, 1873   




Berlin, VT – November 25, 1965

Berlin, Vermont – November 25, 1965


     On the night of November 25, 1965, a single-engine Beech Bonanza with four people aboard was flying from Hartford, Connecticut, when it encountered bad weather and crashed in thick woods about one mile west of Barre-Montpelier Airport.  The aircraft wreckage was found three hours later in a deep ravine between Berlin Pond and an airport light beacon. 

     Witnesses reported that the plane had been circling the airport when it struck one of the light beacon towers.  It began to snow after the accident, which hindered search efforts. 

     All aboard were killed.  State police did not release the names of the victims, but only stated there were two men and two women aboard. 


     (Conn.) The Morning Record, “Four Perish In Air Crash In Vermont”, November 26, 1965

     UPI Article (Lodi CA.) Lodi News Sentinel, “Four Killed As Private Plane Falls In Storm”, November 26, 1965 

Barre-Montpelier Airport – April 10, 1964

Barre-Montpelier Airport – April 10, 1964


    DC-3 Shortly before 1:30 p.m., on April 10, 1964, a Northeast Airlines DC-3, (Flight 373) was taking off from Barre-Montpelier Airport with nineteen people aboard.  The plane had barely left the ground when a sudden strong gust of wind rotated the plane and sent it crashing into a storage hangar, two parked cars, and another aircraft.  Remarkably, there were no reported injuries.

    Although the airliner suffered extensive damage there was no fire, and all aboard were evacuated safely.        

     Source: The Pittsburg Times, “None Injured In Vermont Plane Crash”, April 11, 1964    

Burlington, VT – September 20, 1948

Burlington, Vermont – September 20, 1948



DC-3 Airliner

DC-3 Airliner

     On September 20, 1948, Colonial Airlines, Flight 3, left Montreal, Canada, bound for New York City by way of Burlington, Vermont.  The aircraft was a DC-3, tail number NC17335, with a crew of three, and fourteen passengers aboard.     

     Weather at Burlington Airport was rainy with 1 mile visibility and an 800 foot cloud ceiling.  Flight 3 arrived at Burlington shortly before midnight and attempted to land on Runway 1.  After the plane touched down on the slick tarmac it skidded into a pile of dirt and some trees at the end of the runway.    

     Although the airliner suffered extensive damage there was no fire and everyone was evacuated safely.  There were only two reported injuries: a Miami, Florida, woman suffered a possible broken rib, and the stewardess a slight concussion. Both were treated at a nearby hospital.   The uninjured passengers were transferred to another plane.

     Colonial Airlines merged with Eastern Airlines in 1956.


     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Colonial Plane Crash Lands At Burlington”, September 21, 1948, page 1.

     Aviation Safety Network

     Wikipedia – Colonial Airlines


Manchester, VT – July 20, 1974

Manchester, Vermont – July 20, 1974

     On July 20, 1974, four men took off in a small private airplane from Equinox Airport in Manchester.  The plane crashed shortly after takeoff about a quarter of a mile from the airport, taking down some power lines.  All four men received various non-life threatening injuries.

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “4 Injured In Vermont Plane Crash”, July 22, 1974, page 32

Bellows Falls, VT – August 20, 1875

Bellows Falls, Vermont – August 20, 1875


    balloon On August 20, 1875, a man identified as “Professor Bristol” an aeronaut with “Cole’s Circus” was in a balloon 1,000 feet above Bellows Falls, when a current of cold air running along the Connecticut River caught the craft and caused it to rapidly descend towards the water.  Just as the balloon was about to hit the water above the falls, the breeze blew it a little towards shore, which gave Professor Bristol the chance to jump clear and make it to safety.  No sooner had he done so, the balloon touched down and went over the falls where it was wrecked.   

     Source: (Vermont) Orleans County Monitor, (no headline) August 30, 1875

West Addison, VT – February 18, 1993

West Addison, Vermont – February 18, 1993

On the ice of Lake Champlain

     On the afternoon of February 18, 1993, a Grumman Tiger aircraft took off from Morrisville-Stowe State Airport in Morristown, Vermont, with a lone pilot aboard, bound for Glens Falls, New York.  At 3:30 p.m. the aircraft crashed on the ice of Lake Champlain, about 3/4 of a mile from shore.  (The time was surmised from the plane’s broken dashboard clock.) The impact broke the plane into numerous pieces which were found scattered at the wreck site. The pilot was killed.

     A fisherman later reported seeing the aircraft circling over Lake Champlain, but never heard a crash.  

    No flight plan had been filed by the pilot, so he wasn’t missed when he failed to arrive at his destination, or when he failed to return to Vermont.  No May Day call had been received.  The plane was equipped with an emergency locator transmitter, however its signal wasn’t received until 2:30 a.m the following morning on February 19th.  The crash site was discovered by accident later that morning when two snowmobilers happened up on it at 10:30 a.m. 

    The cause of the crash was believed to be weather related.


     Flying Magazine, I Learned About Flying From That, “Don’t Blame The Engine“, By John T. Quinn, No. 691



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