Balloon Race

From the October 12, 1911 Skidmore New Era, we bring this account of close encounters with identified flying objects:

Three Racing Balloons Pass Over This Section
Big Air Crafts Left Kansas City Thursday Evening Between 5 and 6 Passing Here About 9 O’clock
Sailing Low Up Nodaway
Balloons Not Higher Than 400 Feet
Occupants Talk to Citizens While Passing Over These Parts

Thursday evening a number of the citizens of this part of the county witnessed no less than 3 of the contestants in the Kansas City balloon race.  The crafts were flying low when they passed up the valley and were sighted by Graham, Maitland and Skidmore people.

One ship about 9:00 passed directly over John Owens’ barn, one mile southeast of Skidmore.  Mr. Owens had just returned home from the Skidmore Punkin Show and was unhitching his horses, when he heard a voice, as if coming from the clouds saying, “hello down there.”  He glanced upward and beheld a mammoth balloon carrying a big basket containing two men.  The basket was only safely above the tree tops and buildings, and had it been daylight he would have been able to have read the name and told what flag it was flying.

About an hour later another ship passed over Highland View, Skidmore.  This was also very low and as it passed over one of the balloonists asked the name of this town.  Later in the evening another balloon was seen to pass over the west side of Skidmore.

The ballon races were, one for the James Gordon Bennett Trophy, which was international in character and brought out six giant air crafts, one French, two German and three Americans.  The other was national and was for the Lahm cup.  Only American ships can contest in that and it brought out six balloons, the three American in the Bennett contest and three others.

Interest centered in the big Bennett race, on account of its international fame.  Then too, there was a chance that America would come into possession of the Trophy this year.  By the rules of the contest the Trophy becomes the property of the first club which wins it three times successively and representatives of the Aero Club of America have won the last two contests.

The Bennett prizes are: First, $1,500; second, $1,000 and third, $500.

The Lahm contest is a distance event for Americans only.  This cup is passed on as a balloonist sets a new record. It is now in the possession of Allen R. Howley who won it with a flight of 1,171.9 miles and no one in this race was able to get any where near that distance.

Berlin II wins the Bennett Trophy in the international race landing at Ladysmith, Wis., at 7 o’clock Saturday morning, having traveled 468 miles.  None of the balloons traveled far from their place of starting.  The heavy storms which they encountered brought them all to the ground, most of them landed in Central and Northern Iowa.

In winning this year’s race Germany has taken the Bennett cup from America, into whose possession it would have permanently fallen if this country had been victorious in this race.  The next race will be in Germany.

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