IMS Debuts

The article in this attachment was published in the Indianapolis News June 5, 1909, the same day as the first Aero Club of America national championship balloon races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The News was an evening paper and since the first balloons to be released did not ascend until the start of the handicap race after 3 PM news coverage was limited to the ceremonies and preparations of the morning hours.
The article provides some interesting facts and details with respect to the weather, the color of each balloon as well as the names and roles of personalities. The grounds were patrolled 100 members of Battery A of the Indiana National Guard led by Captain Robert H. Tyndall. They were joined by Sergeant Charles Barmfurher and a squad of 29 Indianapolis policemen. Their chief duty was to enforce a "no smoking" ban around the gas-filled balloons. The article reveals just a little more information about Alan R. Hawley who is reported to be a New York banker and broker. Charles J. Glidden of Glidden Tour fame and Speedway Founder and President Carl Fisher were seen with Hawley. Charles A. Coey, owner of the largest balloon at the track, the 110,000 cubic foot Chicago in the Aero Club of Indiana handicap trophy race, was supported by his new bride.
Mrs. Coey helped stock the vessel's basket and among its provisions were:

  • Three canteens of water
  • One canteen of "spirits"
  • Two guns
  • A camera
  • A hunting knife
  • Two Aeroids
  • Two altitude of barometers
  • A field glass
  • Assorted thermometers
  • Two big ocean life protectors
  • Two electric lamps
  • A dozen carrier pigeons
  • Heavy overcoats
  • Raincoats
  • Fishing tackle
  • A hammock

There was much speculation about the direction of wind currents but it was becoming apparent that the winds were starting to point south. Old pro A. Holland Forbes commented that he would have an hour to observe the three handicap race balloons that would be released in advance of the national championship vessels. This, Forbes reasoned, would help him adjust his tactics.
The paper reported that the setting of the Speedway at dawn was as beautiful as a Maxfield Parrish painting. The article descibes the sun glistening on the colorful balloons that would seem muted by today's standards. The New York is described as greenish-yellow; the University City a chocolate color; Cleveland light gold; Ohio brown; Indianapolis pearly white as was the Indiana, Hoosier and St. Louis III with the giant Chicago a grape red. The scene, the article says, was beautiful.
In a mildly humorous twist a turtle escaped the creek at the south end of the grounds and crawled under the canvas of the Cleveland while it was being inflated. Fearing it would get hungry and gnaw on the cloth the crew looked for the critter. It was finally apprehended by A. Leo Stevens. Also among those also in attendance were American gunsmith Rollin White and Cleveland millionaire Lyman Treadway. In short the day was a big deal - not just for Indianapolis but a curious nation pondering the future of the marvelous idea that men could fly.

BalloonNews060509.pdf14.83 MB