First Vermont Woman To Fly In A Balloon – 1909

First Vermont Woman To Fly In A Balloon – 1909

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Barre Daily Times, (Barre, Vermont), on August 13, 1909.

LANDED IN BRANDON

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Yesterday’s Balloon Ascension

At Rutland Had Lady Passenger

     “Rutland, Aug. 13. – Mrs. Edith I. Sawyer, a reporter on the Evening News in this city, has the distinction of being the first woman in Vermont to make a balloon ascension.  She was a passenger yesterday afternoon in the big balloon Heart of the Berkshires, piloted by William Van Sleet. 

     The ascent was made at 3:25 and was witnessed by a large number of people.  Ezra Allen of Fowler was the second passenger in the car.  Harold F. Keyes of Boston was to have been a passenger, but failed to show up.  A place was then offered to Charles S. Fairfield, editor of the Evening news, and he assigned Mrs. Sawyer, who was in the crowd watching the ascension, to make the trip.

     The big bag was in sight from this city until after five o’clock and the landing was made near Brandon, on land belonging to Dr. O. A. Gee, shortly after that time.  The balloon was seen by many people as it slowly traveled in a southerly direction, and in some instances people on the ground talked with the occupants.  At Fowler the balloon had dropped so low this it was necessary to throw out considerable ballast, and they were plainly seen by the operatives in the mill at that point.

     The landing was made easily and without mishap and the party returned to this city shortly after 11 o’clock.”      

Update January 29, 2017

     Mrs. Sawyer may been the first woman born in Vermont to make a balloon ascension, but the following advertisement promoting the 1887 Lyndonville, Vermont, July 4th celebration indicates that the first woman to go aloft in a balloon over Vermont might have been Mary Myers, (1849-1932,) of Mohawk, New York, better known by her professional name of “Carlotta”.  She was married to Carl Myers, a famous aeronaut and inventor of the time.   

    

Advertisement from The United Opinion newspaper of Bradford, Vermont, June 17, 1887.
The ad was promoting the Lyndonville, Vt., July 4th Celebration.

 

 

 

A New Kind Of Balloon Race – 1908

A New Kind Of Balloon Race – 1908

   old balloon  It was said to be a new kind of balloon race called a “point-to-point race”, the first ever held in the United States.  Balloons were to take off from North Adams, Massachusetts, but the contestants were to predict ahead of time where they expected their balloon to land.  The landing point had to be at least thirty miles form North Adams, and the one who landed closest to their designated target would be the winner. 

     The race was held August 14, 1908, and the winner was Mr. Arthur D. Potter of Greenfield, Massachusetts, who piloted the balloon, North Adams No.1, which came down on a farm about five miles from its anticipated destination of Haydenville, a village in the town of Williamsburg, Mass.  Accompanying him on the trip was A. Holland Forbes, and his 12-year-old daughter, Natalie.    

     Source: (No. Dakota) Bismarck Daily Tribune, “New Kind Of Balloon Race”, August 15, 1908

Updated April 4, 2017

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Morning Journal-Currier, (New Haven, Connecticut), August 6, 1908, page 4.

BALLOON RACE IN EAST NEXT WEEK

Challenge Cup Will Go To Pilot Who Lands Nearest The Place he Selects Before Flight 

Six Balloons, Size Unrestricted, Are Expected To Join Unique Test Next Thursday 

     New York, Aug. 5 – With a record of 25 successful balloon flights from North Adams, Mass., during the present season, and with many more booked for the near future with the certainty that they will continue up to the close of the ballooning season in October, the North Adams Aero Club will start on August 14 the first point to point balloon race ever held in the United States and the fourth race where more than two balloons are started that has ever been held in this country.

     At least four balloons and probably five, with a possibility of six, will be sent away during the afternoon, the pilot of each being required to name the landing place he selects prior to his departure. This place must be at least thirty miles from the starting point, and the pilot who lands nearest to the post office of the town or city he selects, providing he is within a ten-mile radius of the post office, will be awarded the trophy given by A. Holland Forbes of new York, a well known balloonist who has made the majority of his trips from this city and who is to be one of the contestants representing the United States in the international balloon races at Berlin, Germany, in October. 

     This trophy is to be held by the winner subject to challenge after six months, and if the challenge is not accepted after thirty days the cup reverts to the North Adams Aero Club, which will arrange for a second race, as will be done immediately in the event that no one of the contestants succeeds in carrying out the provisions of the race on the first attempt.

     The balloons already entered are: Heart of the Berkshires, owned by the Aero Club of Pittsfield; pilot Alan R. Hawley, third vice-president of the Aero Club of America, and a contestant in the recent international race from St. Louis.  Sky Pilot, owned by Mesers Wade and Morgan of Cleveland, Ohio: pilot J. H. Wade.   Boston, owned by the Aero Club of New England; pilot, Charles J. Glidden of Boston.  North Adams No 1, owned by the North Adams Aero Club; pilot, Arthur D. Potter of Greenfield,  who will be accompanied by Mr. Forbes, the giver of the trophy.  Greylock, owned and piloted by Dr. Roger M. Randall of North Adams.  

     No restrictions as to the size of the balloons or the number of people each may carry is made, and each pilot, after witnessing the direction taken by several piloting balloons, is at liberty to pick his landing place, announcing it as he is ready to leave the grounds.

     The first of the balloons will not be sent away until 1 o’clock at the earliest on Friday, August 14, and the others will follow at fifteen or thirty minutes intervals, as mey be determined upon the day of the race by the race committee. 

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     The following newspaper article appeared in The Marion Daily Mirror, (Marion, Ohio) on August 15, 1908, page 2.      

     POINT TO POINT BALLOON RACE

Three Airships In The Race

Balloon That Won The Prize Offered For Victory Had A 12-Year-old Girl As One Of Its Passengers

     North Adams, Mass., Aug. 15 – The balloon North Adams No. 1, with A. D. Potter of Greenfield as pilot and Holland Forbes and daughter Natalie, aged 12 years, as passengers, and owned by the North Adams Aero Club, undoubtedly won the cup offered by Mr. Forbes in the first point-to-point race ever held in this country.  The race was started from North Adams Friday afternoon.  The North Adams No. 1 landed on the farm of Lyman Sanderson at West Whateley, about five miles from its previously declared destination, Haydenville.  This was the first balloon to get away.  The Greylock, owned and pilotd by Dr. Roger M. Randall of North Adams and having Clarence Wildman of this city as passenger, landed at Bryant farm in Ashfield, fully 12 miles from its desired destination, Leeds.

     The third balloon to start, the Heart of the Berkshires, owned by the Aero Club of Pittsfield, was the last to land, coming down in Amherst, within six and one-quarter miles of Whateley Station, its destination.

     The conditions of the race were that, previous to the race, the occupants of the balloon should designate some place, at least 30 miles from North Adams, where they would attempt to land, that they should land within ten miles of the post office of the place and that the balloon landing nearest the announced destination should win the cup.   Further, the winner should hold himself open for six months to a challenge for the defense of the cup.

     Charles J. Glidden of Boston was to have made the fourth competitor with the balloon Boston, owned by the Aero Club of New England and having as a passenger Mrs. Helm Clayton, wife of the meteorologist of the Blue Hill Observatory.   Mr. Glidden did not desire to start until late in the afternoon, but the committee on the race decided that the contestants must be ready to start at 1 o’clock.  Mr. Glidden would not consent to go up at that time, so he was disqualified from competing.  

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Dalton, MA – July 29, 1908

Dalton, Massachusetts – July 29, 1908

     On July 29, 1908, a large gas balloon, Heart of the Berkshires, ascended from the Pittsfield Aero Park with three men aboard.  There was Leo Stevens, the owner, and Allen R. Hawley, both of New York, as well as C. R. Van Sicle of Pittsfield.  

     As the balloon drifted over the nearby town of Dalton, it was suddenly caught in a powerful updraft and rapidly carried to an altitude of 7,00o feet, and was still rising.  Stevens did what he could to slow the balloon by releasing some of the gas form the envelope, all the while the drag rope, which usually hung below the gondola, was being slapped against the side of the balloon by the strong draft threatening to tear a hole in it.   

     When the balloon reached 10,000 feet the updraft died away, but now, with the envelope relieved of much of its buoyant gas, the balloon began a rapid descent.  All excess weight was jettisoned from the gondola to slow the fall, which included ropes, ballast bags, and anything else they could think of.  The rate of fall slowed, but it was clear they couldn’t remain airborne. 

     As they neared the ground they saw they would be coming down in a field where men were at work cutting hay.   One was operating a large mowing machine which it appeared the balloon was heading straight for.  Stevens and the others tried to shout warnings, but the operator evidently couldn’t hear them.  At the last moment he looked up and saw what was happening, and barely got out of the way in the nick of time.

     The balloon struck the ground, but no injuries were reported.

     Source: (Woonsocket, R.I.) Evening Call, July 30, 1908, pg. 1    

    

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