The Skidmore Standard had arranged to entertain its subscribers – current and potential – at the end of April 1899. The snow was finally gone, and the paper had been encouraging readers join them in a celebration of spring on the occasion of the paper’s fifth year in publication. Everyone was encouraged to come to town and make a day of it as Prof. Cooper Sampson of Albany, Missouri was to ascend in a balloon to an impressive height and then parachute from the balloon to the ground.
Alas, as all early aviators were well aware, the best-laid plans of aviators and newspapermen must sometimes contend with the weather. From the May 5, 1899 Skidmore Standard:
The Balloon Went Up – And Not The Standard
The balloon ascension was a success, so far as the STANDARD was concerned, and we feel very grateful to the people for their appreciation of our work.
We are sorry that some people had to go home before the balloon went up but ’twasn’t our fault. We secured the balloonists, selected the day, and got the people here, but we couldn’t control the weather. The wind blew so hard that it was dangerous to attempt to make the ascension until in the evening. Some thought that the businessmen of the town had the ascension late in order to hold the crowd in town, but we will clear them of that charge as the STANDARD was the only firm in town that had anything to do with securing the balloon management, and we would have had the ascension take place about 3 o’clock in the afternoon had the weather permitted.
A good many people were disappointed because the parachute leap did not take place. It was caused by the ropes becoming entangled in such a way that Prof. Sampson could not detach the parachute from the balloon. Such things will sometimes happen and they cannot be helped.