First IMS Balloon Ascension

This attachment contains images of the first gas balloon ascension from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One is the frist aerial view of the Speedway, the other a pretty hard landing.
Published in the May 23, 1909 Indianapolis Star the photos were taken the previous day. The aerial shot was taken from the balloon occupied by Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and Founder Carl Fisher and his ballooning mentor Captain George L. Bumbaugh. Fisher was practicing ascensions and landings under the supervision of Bumbaugh in order to obtain his balloon pilot's license. The balloon is reported to be the Kathleen owned by balloonist and race driver Charles A. Coey. At the same time the reason Fisher was in the balloon is because he was preparing to compete in the national balloon racing championship coming up on June 5, 1909. Fisher and Bumbaugh made three "captive" ascensions and the landing photograph comes from one of those. The captive ascension simply means the balloon was attached to a mooring cable and not allowed to drift freely. After three captive ascensions Fisher and Bumbaugh were turned loose and traveled well beyond the Speedway grounds. Over 50 men including witnesses to the flights assisted in this historic ascension.
There was a lot going on at the Speedway at the moment this photo was taken on May 22, 1909. The track was under construction as management prepared for its first motorized event - a Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) motorcycle race as well as its first automobile races. A team of laborers using mules and steam shovels were grading the racing surface and banking turns. Part of the infrastructure of the track included miles of gas pipe from the Indianapolis gas company specifically for the purpose of inflating the air craft. A single main pipe on the grounds connected to four others to enable multiple simultaneous inflations. The main delivered 80,000 cubic feet of gas per hour. The Kathleen was a 40,000 cubic foot capacity balloon. The caption reports that it was a windy day making both ascensions and landings very tough.

FirstAerial052309.pdf367.49 KB