The Governor & Balloonists

The June 4, 1909 Indianapolis Star article in attachment BalloonGovernor060409 announced the intentions of Indiana Governor Thomas Marshall (who would later serve as vice president of the United States under Woodrow Wilson) to perform the ceremonial duties of seeing off the competitors in the June 5, 1909 national balloon championship as they were launched from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is a substantive article that starts with a call-out box that lists the competitors in the two events: the national championship and the handicap. These pilots and their assistants are listed with their balloon names. Click the links and you will find some pretty amazing biographies about many men.
National Championship:


Competitors, officals and enthusiasts of all kinds were converging on Indianapolis. This article heralds Captain Thomas Baldwin, who had just arrived, as the top aeronaut of the day. It reports that he had several government contracts and worked with the U.S. Army. In recognition of his work Baldwin had been presented  the American Aero Club's first gold medal. Major H.B. Hersey a weather expert from the United States Government Weather Bureau had also just arrived in town and was a much sought after man. Several of the competitors arrived the previous day as did Aero Club of America President Allen R.C. Hawley arrived and showed leadership by organizing the program and laying out the rules to the competitors.
One of the challenges was the dangers involved with gas inflation. An army of 150 soldiers were employed to patrol the grounds surrounding the balloons and were especially watchful for people smoking within the area as a spark could set off a massive explosion. Other interesting facts include that 20,000 pounds of sand was to be used as balast in total among the competitors and every thousand cubic feet of gas was capable of lifting 40 pounds. The Claypool Hotel was the event headquarters and from the article's description it was clearly an atmosphere of swapping war stories. An area of the hotel took on the temporary name of "balloon alley" where competitors and companies displayed banners, awards and mementos of all kinds relevant to the emerging field of aviation. Captain Baldwin is quoted describing a particularly close call in his career when he was caught in a hailstrom during a flight over France.

BalloonGovernor060409.pdf2.66 MB