Bennett Cup - Ballooning 1908

This is an immensely interesting article published in the October 12, 1908 Indianapolis Star about the James Gordon Bennett Cup for ballooning. I include this because the people involved had a direct connection to auto racing and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder Carl Fisher was an balloonist - competing in the first sporting event at the track - the 1909 National Balloon Championship. Bennett, a millionaire sportsman and owner of the New York Herald, sponsored what for a couple of years prior to the advent of Grand Prix racing was the most important auto race - the James Gordon Bennett Cup.
The article focuses on a harrowing and bizarre incident at the very beginning of the contest - the collapse of an American entry at 4,000 feet. In the vehicle were two men with stout credentials in ballooning and one also had a background in auto racing: A. Holland Forbes and Augustus Post. Post was an American Automobile Association (AAA) official and helped organize the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup.
The Conqueror, their balloon, quickly soared 4,000 feet and abruptly caught fire. Some 80,000 horrified spectator scream in terror as the balloon began to plummet to what appeared to be certain death in an impossible situation. Post and Forbes alertly began realsing ballast - sandbags and anything they could throw overboard. In what must have been a miraculous development to witness, the satin of the balloon caught air and formed an accidental parachute. Their descent slowed significantly, so much so that when the basket crashed into the tile roof of a house the men escaped virtually uninjured, albeit with the obligatory scrapes and bruises.

PostBalloon101208.pdf1.43 MB