Balloon Race Morning

The attached article published in the Indianapolis Star on June 5, 1909 (attachment BalloonRace060509) - the morning of the national championship balloon race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - describes the preparations of competitors and organizers for the big event. It starts with a callout box providing essential weather information and the schedule for the ascension of each balloon. The handicap race was scheduled for 3:45 PM and the first balloon of the national championship, the New York, of A. Holland Forbes was selected to go at 5 PM. Good weather was predicted.
Both prominent competitors and officials had only arrived the day before. Among the officials were Charles Glidden and Charles Edwards. Glidden, the founder of the Glidden Tour automobile contest, was the official timer and Edwards, an Aero Club of America executive was working for Alan R. Hawley a senior Aero Club officer. Among the newly arrived competitors were the St. Louis contingent of John Berry and Paul McCullough for the University City balloon as well as Albert B. Lambert and H.E. Honeywell of the St. Louis III. Lambert was also an Olympic golfer, having competed in the Summer games of 1900 and 1904. All the people involved with the event worked through the night and the result was a nice bit of prose describing the setting at dawn:
"Balloons of various sizes and colors have sprung from the green grass carpet of the speedway and from a distance present an inspiring view. Dark brown, pure white and different shades of brown and yellow furnish the clue to the identity of the crafts. Before the race starts this afternoon, however, every vessel will be decorated with large flags and pennants."
Perhaps the biggest topic of discussion was the weather and the direction and strength of the wind currents in particular. Major H.B. Hersey of the United States Weather Bureau teamed with a local weather official, W.T. Blythe, to develop forecasts. They received special telegraph reports from other cities around the region to help develop their predictions.
Speculation among the aerial community also focused on the possibility of record-breaking efforts. At the time a Swiss balloon, Helvetia, with pilot Colonel Theodore Schaeck held the world record for staying aloft 73 hours. Charles A. Coey and his balloon, Chicago, generated discussion as his vessel was the largest on the grounds with 110,000 cubic feet of gas capacity. Still, A. Holland Forbes and the New York remained the favorite of experts who appreciated its layered cloth and rubber design. The event held widespread and even international appeal. The Island of Montreal in Canada offered trophies for any national race contender landing within their boundaries.
The previous evening chief official Alan R. Hawley gave final instructions to the competitors. This included a review of the procedure for signing and submitting certificates of landing complete with witnesses to document the location and distance. The "wireless" blanks to be dropped overboard at intervals to update officials and newspapers as to the progress of the "cloud racers" was also reviewed. These were printed in English, French, and German.

BalloonRace060509.pdf2.99 MB