Waterville, Maine – September 2, 1908

Waterville, Maine – September 2, 1908

     On September 2, 1908, Charles O. Jones was giving an aerial exhibition of his dirigible balloon, the Boomerang,  at the Waterville, Mane, fair grounds, when a small fire erupted while the ship was just over five-hundred feet above the ground.  When Jones realized the danger he pulled an emergency cord to rapidly deflate the envelope.  As he did so the fabric ignited, causing the frame suspended underneath containing Jones and the motor to fall away and crash to the ground.  Jones died about ninety minutes later of his injuries. 

     The accident was witnessed by his wife and child.

     Charles Jones was an intrepid early aeronaut.  Just a few weeks earlier on July 19, he and the Boomerang were almost carried out to sea over Long Island Sound. 

     On the afternoon of July 23, 1908, he made an ascension with the Boomerang from the Palisades Amusement Park during a severe electrical storm saying he needed the experience.  After rising to 3,00 feet he became lost in the clouds.  When he descended below the clouds he found himself in driving rain which short-circuited the batteries of his airship.  The airship was pushed ahead by the strong winds over Hackensack, New Jersey, where he was able to land safely.

     On July 26, Jones once again took off from Palisades Amusement Park, but this time his airship crash-landed on the roof of a house about a quarter of a mile away  from its starting point after being damaged by trees and electrical wires during the take off.     

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Airship Caught By Storm”, July 24, 1908  

     New York Times, “Airship Wrecked, Lands On House”, July 27, 1908 

     Bangor Daily News, “Aeronaut’s Tragedy Shocked State In ’08” by Wayne Reilly, August 31, 2008

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