First IMS Balloon Landings

This is an historic photo in that it was the first balloon landing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Published in the May 23, 1909 Indianapolis Star the photo was taken the previous day. The gas balloon was 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 car driver Charles A. Coey. This event was also historic because it was the first balloon ascension from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Note: Kathleen eventually wed Coey later in life after his first wife, Carrie, passed away.
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. 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.

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