Bumbaugh at 1909 State Fair

This image of Captain George L. Bumbaugh's dirigible hovering over the Indiana State Fairgrounds mile dirt track was originally published in the September 7, 1909 Indianapolis Star. The event was part of the festivities at the 1909 Indiana State Fair. Bumbaugh was staging an exhibition of what he billed as "America's largest dirigible" in preparation for an aviation show planned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The air show never materialized but there was an aviation meet at the Speedway in June 1910. The Indianapolis Star staged a naming contest for the vessel and the winner was announced in November.
Bumbaugh mentored Speedway President Carl Fisher in the sport and art of ballooning. Although there is no information associated with this image that verifies the dirigible was at the Speedway when the photo was taken, a later article confirms this to be true. The Indiana Aero Club had a club house at the track, Fisher was the president and other facilities had been constructed to accommodate the national championship balloon races the previous June.
The caption originally published with this image is reproduced below:
"Four flights were made yesterday by G.L. Bumbaugh in his dirigible balloon. The weather was favorable, there being neither sunshine nor breezes. Too much wind makes the big bag unmanagable and too much sunshine expands the gas, putting the aeronaut in danger of an explosion and consequent fall. In the morning two short flights of five minutes each were made, and in the afternoon one of ten minutes and one of twenty minutes. Little trouble was experienced in steering the balloon anywhere at the will of the pilot. The balloon tent is east of the race track and the ascensions are made from a big open field north of the balloon tent.
In his last long flight Bumbaugh sailed out over the race track, following the course a number of times. After nearly twenty minutes of demonstrating in curves and straightaway dashes his ability to handle the ship, Bumbaugh started to make a turn against the wind and snapped a rib in his rudder. Without a moment's hesitation the balloonist signaled to his attendants below and dropping an anchor bag which they caught he was soon near the ground. The big bag, shaped not unlike some of the Herkshire hogs on exhibit, once level with the ground, was carried back to the tent. The rudder will be readily repaired. Without the rudder the balloonist might have drifted at the will of the wind but for his prompt action in dropping the anchor bag. The flights were at a height of about 800 feet."

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