Captain George L. Bumbaugh

The man Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder Carl Fisher turned to when he wanted to master the skills of flying giant balloons was Captain George L. Bumbaugh. Together the two competed in the Speedway's first competition - a national championship balloon race on June 5, 1909. They also had staged one of the most outrageous automobile dealership stunts when they flew a Stoddard-Dayton automobile over Indianapolis the previous October.
Bumbaugh was quite the daredevil (a kindred spirit with Fisher) and evidence of this is a brief item in attachment Bumbaugh030709 which notes that he had decided to purse the Lahm Trophy which, according to his plan, would involve him sailing above the Rocky Mountains after ascending from Los Angeles. His goal was to travel from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. The article appeared in the March 7, 1909 Indianapolis Star. Unfortunately, weather did not cooperate with Bumbaugh's plans (see attachment Bumbaugh033109) and he had to cancel and return to Indianapolis by rail. Captain Bumbaugh was much in demand for the national championship balloon races. The item on the cancellation was published March 31 in the Indianapolis Star.
Unlike his friend Fisher there isn't much evidence of a visionary man in Bumbaugh - at least if you read the article he wrote (attachment Bumbaugh041809) for the April 18, 1909 Indianapolis Star. In this article Bumbaugh is making a plea for government investment in balloons and dirigibles - although his preference is clearly for balloons. He contends that balloons make tremendous weapons of war and could eliminate another country's naval fleet in overnight bombing runs under the cloak of darkness.
He opines further that balloons can be deployed from a variety of places, including ship decks, and then could be easily deflated upon reaching their destinations - making them easy to store or transport to another deployment location. He asserts that "aeroplane" would never reach the commercial value of a balloon due to their fragile nature. Hindsight is 20-20 or so the old adage goes, but history clearly demonstrates that Bumbaugh's predictions couldn't have been further off the mark.
On May 16, 1909 (attachment BumbaughShop051609) the Indianapolis Star published an image of Bumbaugh's workshop, reported to be one of only four balloon factories in America. This "factory" was more accurately a workshop and it was located in the home he shared with his wife and daughters at 1029 North Illinois Street in Indianapolis.
In addition to his wife a gentleman described as an "old sailor" comprised his team. The article also indicated that Bumbaugh had plans to work out of a facility at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which was under construction at the time this image was published. The image notes the upcoming June 5 national championship balloon races.

Bumbaugh030709.pdf370.52 KB
Bumbaugh033109.pdf167.61 KB
Bumbaugh041809.pdf1.31 MB
BumbaughShop051609.pdf1.32 MB