Fisher's Dirigible

This image first appeared in the Indianapolis Star on October 20, 1909. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder and President Carl Fisher was a leading advocate to position his track as the American capital of aviation. The economic benefits to Indianapolis of being the center of a burgeoning industry were obvious and got civic leadership excited.
Fisher was more than an enthusiast of aviaion, he was an active participant. The first sports event hosted at the Speedway was the June 1909 National Balloon Race Championship and he competed in it. This image is of a dirigible his ballooning mentor George Bumbaugh was developing for him. It was housed in the large aerodrome at the Speedway. I believe this is not the same craft as the one Bumbaugh used in an exhibition at the Indiana State Fair the previous month.
While Speedway management had recently consumed a bit of crow by having to cancel a much ballyhooed aviation show that was planned for October 14 they continued to pursue the opportunity to host the 1910 international air show featuring the James Gordon Bennett Cup for airplanes. This effort would fail also as Belmont Park in New York hosted that contest. The landmark inaugural edition of that event had been staged in Rheims, France just weeks earlier in August.
The caption that was published with this photograph read as follows:
"Capt. G.L. Bumbaugh has almost finished the big dirigible balloon in which he and Carl G. Fisher propose to sail from the Motor Speedway to the heart of the city, and, after circling around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument continue on their way to Dayton, O. The cigar-shaped gas bag is 166 feet long, 32 feet in diameter and its capacity is 100,000 cubie feet of gas. It is the largest airship in the United States."

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