Unofficial Results

The article in this attachment was published in the Indianapolis News June 9, 1909, four days after the start of the first Aero Club of America national championship balloon races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Essentially this article announces the "unofficial" results of the national championship event as the winners and finishing order was all but confirmed. As reported the previous day there had been confusion over the landing location of the University City, the eventual Aero Club of America Trophy winner. Once it was established that the landing point was the Freestone Peak of Lookout Mountain near Ft. Payne, Alabama the University City was taken seriously as the champion.
Even with the correction the results were still a bit unsettled. Pre-race favorite New York piloted by A. Holland Forbes landed in Corinth, Mississppi and the total distance of both competitors' landing spot from Indianapolis was almost equidistant. Still, it was becoming increasingly clear that the St. Lous-based team had a margin of 10 to 15 miles.
The New York-based team of Forbes and assistant Clifford Harmon picked up a consolation prize when Carl Fisher and Captain George L. Bumbaugh of the Indiana announced they would release their controversial claims to the duration trophy that Fisher had donated to the event. The two men had held that the duration of their voyage was over 48 hours but they had landed or "nearly" landed twice during that time to replenish water spoiled by storage in old oil cans. According to the attached article the New York had remained in the air for 35 hours and 10 minutes without touching the ground. The Fisher-Bumbaugh announcement also meant that the 1907 duration record establish by the legendary Alfred LeBlanc would remain intact at 44 hours.
This article contains an extensive quote by Fisher describing the harrowing trials he and Bumbaugh had encountered in wild atmospheric conditions in the vicinity of the Cumberland River. Fisher had earlier provided a long distance telephone interview recounting the tumultuous ride and later penned a firsthand account of the ordeal.
Perhaps the most interesting information revealed in this article concerned the origin of the winning balloon the University City. Owned by pilot John Berry who had purchased it from its constructor, St. Louis III assistant H.E. Honeywell, the vessel was effectively a hand-me-down of sorts and not much was expected from it or its crew. Honeywell had named the balloon "Yankee" and it was Berry who re-named it for his use. Berry and his assistant Paul McCullough were the last to arrive at the Speedway and spent the night before race day June 5 setting up their balloon, inflating it and organizing their equipment. Because of their "all-nighter" this report indicates that Pilot Berry looked worn out by race time.
The article reports that the controversial claims of famed balloonist A. Leo Stevens that the poor performance of the two balloons he had built - the Ohio and the Cleveland - could be attributed to bad gas from the Indianapolis gas company and the tamperings of some malcontent while on Speedway grounds. Fisher took exception to both charges and interviews with even the pilots of the Stevens-built balloons were reassuring in that they said the quality of gas was good and they believed faulty seams were the culprit. A sidebar at the conclusion of the article reports that the Cleveland had been shipped to Stevens' New York shop for examination where he announced the discovery of a four-inch knife incision at the "dipping panel" of the balloon. With no audit of Stevens' examination the world had only the integrity of his word to judge.
The article presents a sidebar on the handicap race distance and duration winner Dr. Goethe Link who had been reported to be an Indianapolis-area surgeon but his quote states that he was aspiring to be a surgeon at the time. Despite his success in piloting the winning Indianapolis, Dr. Link insisted that his interest in ballooning and aviation would remain an avocation. Link held a life-long interest in aviation and Indiana University later named an observatory after him.
With respect to farmers with rifles especially in Kentucky and Tennessee Dr. Link had an interesting quote:
"Everybody owns a rifle down there, and it seems that practically all of the balloons that sailed over Kentucky and Tennessee were shot at. The people belong to the Daniel Boone school of shooters there, and one of the men who helped us told me he had killed twenty-seven squirrels the day before. Of course he shot them through their eyes. All wanted our sandbags for hunting sacks and we left some behind with people who helped us."
Dr. Link and his assistant Russe "R.J." Irvin were relative novices but had a successful as well as memorable trip. They were instant celebrities in the remote Tennessee community where they landed as the local church congreation approached them with awe in the belief they were the second coming of Jesus Christ. The truth revealed, they were still greeted as amazing heroes.

BalloonNews060909.pdf4.01 MB