Near Providence, RI – November 19, 1910

Near Providence, RI – November 19, 1910

     On November 19, 1910, the balloon Cleveland, took off from North Adams, Massachusetts, with five men aboard.  The craft was piloted by Leo Stevens, and carrying four Williams College students as passengers. 

     Strong winds on the ground delayed the ascension for nearly an hour, but when it finally took to the sky the balloon “shot up like a rocket” before being carried away in an easterly direction.  Three hours and thirty-five minutes later the balloon was over Rhode Island approaching Providence when it began to lose altitude.   Ballast was dropped, but the balloon continued to fall, and appeared to heading for a large lake.  The aeronauts were forced to strip off their clothing to lighten the weight in order to avoid a water landing.  The tactic worked, and the balloon sailed across the lake before crashing onto the far shore.

     Upon impact, one of the occupants, H.P. Scharman was pitched out and received serious injuries.  Thus relieved of significant weight, the balloon suddenly rose upwards leaving Scharman behind.  It then continued onward several hundred feet, propelled forward by heavy winds, before it slammed into a stone wall.  The crash sent the others tumbling out causing relatively minor injuries.    

Source: New York Times, “Balloon Up In Gale, Spills Aviators”, November 20, 1910

 

A Plan To Make Bobsleds Fly – 1910

A Plan To Make Bobsleds Fly – 1910

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Bennington Evening Banner on November 22, 1910.  (Williams College is in Williamstown, Massachusetts.)

    Would Make Bobsleds Fly

Williams Students Will Fix Aeroplanes To Sides Of Long Crafts

     Boston, Nov. 22 – Leo Stevens the aeronaut, is enthusiastic over a plan of H. P. Shearman, president of the Williams College Aeronautical Society, to attach wings to bobsleds and so teach students to fly.  

     There are some beautiful coasts several miles in length in the Berkshire Hills.  Mr. Shearman’s idea it to attach an aeroplane with flexible wings – a typical biplane minus the engine – to a bobsled, from which the planes can be controlled by the usual levers.

     “We shall take the sled to the top of a long hill and coast down,” said Shearman.  “Any one who has ever coasted in the Berkshires knows how fast we are likely to travel.  As soon as we are traveling about a mile a minute we shall tilt up the planes and the sled will leave the ground.  Then by manipulating the planes the sled can be kept a foot or so above the snow, just skimming the ground, until the bottom of the hill is reached.”

     “In this way the fellows in our society can learn how to handle the planes, and gain practical experience without undergoing the risk of operating a real aeroplane with an engine to propel it.”

Springfield, MA – October 8, 1908

Springfield, Massachusetts – October 8, 1908

 

    Early balloon with net On October 8, 1908, well known aeronaut, Leo Stevens, was making a balloon ascension at Springfield, Massachusetts, when something went wrong with the safety valve on the gas bag.  Aboard the balloon with Mr. Stevens were Floyd B. Smith, of Yonkers, New York, and Harlan T. Pierpont, of Springfield, Mass.

     As the balloon rose to 1,000 feet Stevens realized that it was becoming over-inflated and was at risk of bursting open.  If it did, the three of them would surly fall to their deaths. 

     With no other choice, Stevens climbed out of the balloon and into the rigging where he managed to tear open the safety valve with his teeth while holding on to the rigging.  

     With disaster averted, the balloon landed safely in the town of Granby, about 12 miles from Springfield.

     For other balloon ascensions involving Mr. Stevens, see “Dalton, MA – July 29, 1908”, and “Near Providence – November 19, 1910” under Aviation Accidents on this website.

     Source:

     New York Tribune, “Teeth To Open Valve”, October 9, 1908

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    

    

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲