Link & Fisher

Attached is a pair of images that appeared in the June 8, 1909 Indianapolis News. This material was part of the comprehensive coverage of the national championship balloon race that was hosted by and started at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 5, 1909. One of the images is of a young Dr. Goethe Link, the amateur pilot and Indianapolis surgeon who with assistant Russe "R.J." Irvin won both the duration and distance trophies for the handicap race that complemented the national championship event. Dr. Link, an Indianapolis surgeon but also a passionate balloonist, made such an impression on this arena of aviation an Indiana University observatory was later named in his honor.
Three balloons (the Indianapolis, the Chicago and the Ohio) that did not meet the specifications of the national championship event's rule book competed in the handicap event. This image ran in support of an article that reported on how and his assistant Russe "R. J." Irvin won the handicap trophy. Departing from the Speedway at 4:15 PM on Saturday June 5 Dr. Link and Irvin landed in Westmoreland, Tennessee at 11:15 AM the next day, June 6. It was not until they arrived in Louisville on June 7 did they see a newspaper sharing news of their success. They had covered 250 miles in their balloon - the Indianapolis. This handicap event was for balloons that were either too small or too large for the rules of the national championship. The national championship was for balloons not larger than 78,000 cubic feet in capcity and not less than 50,000. The Chicago had a capacity of 110,000 cubic feet while the Indianapolis and Ohio were both 40,000.
The second image is of Speedway President and Founder Carl Fisher who piloted the Indiana in the national balloon championship race. Fisher, who was assisted by Captain George L. Bumbaugh, was the last balloon to retire from the event after a controversial effort. Despite being the final balloon Fisher did not capture either the national championship trophy or the duration trophy for the event. Later Fisher wrote a first-hand account of his participatin in the competition. The University City balloon - designed by H.E. Honeywell - was flown by pilot John Berry and assistant Paul McCullough to win the national championship race.

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