Chapter 16 - 1927


15 Balloons Rise At Detroit for 16th Cup Race - Colors of 8 Nations Soar East into Clouds in Annual World Contest for Gordon Bennett Trophy - Reported Seen Over Ohio. - Bags May Sail 3 Days, Lead Way Up in 16-Mile Wind. (By the Associated Press) DETROIT, September 10 [Saturday]-


Bearing the colors of eight nations, fifteen huge silken gas bags floated from the Ford airport here to-day and headed in the general direction of the Atlantic as the beginning of competition for the Gordon Bennett trophy in the sixteenth international balloon race.

Each of the crews was determined to remain aloft until the farthest possible distance from the starting point has been reached.

The race may last as long as three days, according to statements from the balloon pilots before they cast off ballast and took to the skies. The pilots went aloft prepared to brave rain and wind, and most of the balloons were equipped with rubber boats in case they should be forced down over water.


Spaniards Lead Off.


Promptly at 4 o'clock Major Enrique Maldonado and his aid, Major Penito Molas, threw off the ropes holding their huge bag, the Hispania, and rose into cloudy, overhanging sky. A few minutes later the balloon was out of sight in the clouds. The other fourteen entries followed at five-minute intervals.

The bags all followed a course directly east of Detroit, although it was believed they might be swept in a southerly direction before morning.

C.G.Andrus, weather forecaster for the flight, announced at the start that, in all probability, the balloons would be seen over western New York and Pennsylvania in the morning. An early report that three balloons had been sighted near Sandusky, Ohio, however, led him to believe that the bags may have been swept into the path of a north wind which would blow them through Ohio and into the Virginias.


Start at Sixteen Miles an Hour


Winds were variable at the start of the race, and weather reports presented such uncertain wind charts that it was believed the race this year would be almost entirely one of pilots' skill in seeking "blindly" for the best wind current. The wind current shortly after the take-off averages sixteen miles an hour.

The contestants and the order in which they took off: [list of balloons pilots and aids.]

There will be no official report from the balloons until they land. The winner of the race will be the pilot who reaches the greatest distance from the starting point.

Bienaime holds the record for the distance in the international event, 1,358 miles.


The inflation of the bags took less than 5 hours, which was considered to be very fast. At the Ford Airport, in Detroit, it rained the night before the start and all the day of the start. But the sun came out just before the start and remained out until all the bags had departed. The fourth balloon to start was the "Ernest Brandenburg," representing Germany. It was the first time Germany had competed in these races since 1913. As this balloon lifted off, the pilot dropped flowers and the crowd stood up and cheered. The other balloons followed in sequence, as determined by lot. Just as the last balloon left the field, the crowd was treated to an aerobatic demonstration by the Selfridge flyers, [the best pursuit squadron in America, and the precursor of the Blue Angels.]

Carl F Schory, former secretary of the National Aeronautic Assn contest committee, said, "The Gordon Bennett race brings into close contact the various nations. It is a sporting event without remuneration." 


 Whitmore, Ohio, September 10, 1927 [Saturday] -(by the Associated Press) - Two balloons passed over here five minutes apart at 8:50 p.m. traveling in a southeasterly direction. Whitmore is about sixty-five miles from Detroit -


Bennett Racers Nearing Florida; 5 Balloons Down - Entrants Sighted Passing Over Carolinas Believed To Be the Hispania and Italian aircraft, Dux. - Bienaime, French Pilot, Descends After 500-Mile Flight from Detroit. DETROIT, September 11, 1927 [Sunday](AP)


The annual international Gordon Bennett trophy race which got under way here at 4 p.m. Saturday, to-night apparently had developed into a nip and tuck race between a number of unidentified balloons reported being wafted toward the Florida coast.

Under masterly piloting through variable winds, with a general southeasterly trend the bags were reported passing over the Carolinas and converging toward the tip of the Florida coast which goal if attained would represent the maximum distance  possible from Detroit under prevailing weather trends. The furthermost tip of the Florida coast is approximately 1,180 miles by airplane from the starting point here, a distance which has been surpassed only once during the sixteen years of the event.


1,358 Miles World's Record.


In 1913 M Bienaime, French balloonist, piloted a bag from Stuttgart to Moscow, a distance of 1,358 miles, a world's record, which still stands.

M Bienaime, piloting the French balloon Paris was forced to land his bag to-night near Dunn, N.C. after floating approximately 500 miles from the starting point here in twenty-five hours.

The Belgian entry, Wallonia, was forced down near Greenville, S.C. after being in the air approximately twenty-seven hours and covering about 500 miles. The United States Army entry, another favorite in the race, was forced to descend near York, S.C. at about the same time as the Belgian and French balloons.


Swiss Entry Down.


Reports that the German balloon Brandenburg had descended last night in Lake Erie led officials to express the opinion it probably was one of a group including the French entry Lafayette, which experienced difficulty clearing the lower lakes area, where a wind current cycle prevailed during Saturday night.

The Helvetia, Swiss entry, was reported down near Statesville, N.C.

The progress of the unidentified balloons last reported over the Carolinas and believed to include the Dux, Italian entry piloted by Colonel Domenico Leone and Lieutenant Ugo Medori, was commented on as a marvelous exhibition of piloting by race officials here to-night in view of the recalcitrant weather conditions. It is believed the Belgica, piloted by Ernest Demuyter and Dr George Le Gallee also was in the group reported over the Carolinas.

[Dr George Le Gallee was a sculptor. Was he also a pilot? Why did he take a sculptor?]


DeMuyter Winner in 1920.


DeMuyter won the event in 1920, when it was held at Birmingham, taking his balloon from the Alabama city to Burlington, Vt., a distance of 1,098 miles.

Although five of the entries were unofficially reported down to-night, officials in charge of the race had not received notification of the descent of those still believed to be in the air. Only a few had been reported as sighted after leaving the Detroit area.

There is no cause for concern for the missing balloons, however, according to the officials, who pointed out that each basket is equipped for every emergency so that the pilots will have means of subsistence should they land in wild and unsettled country. -


Several Sighted in Carolinas. CHARLOTTE, N.C. September 11, [1927] (AP)


Wafted southward from Detroit by a gentle breeze a number of entrants in the Gordon Bennett international balloon race had been accounted for to-night in Southern states, the two Carolinas being the favored landing ground.

The Paris, Pilot Maurice Bienaime of France, landed at Dunn N.C. approximately 150 miles northeast of here at 5:50.

The United States Army entry, pilot Captain W E Kepner, landed at York, S.C. about thirty miles southwest of here.

The Wallonie, Belgium, pilot Lieutenant Philip Quersin, came to earth about six miles south of Greenville.

The Helvetia, Swiss entry, pilot Ernest Maag, landed sixteen miles north of Statesville, N.C. at 6:15.


Moving Toward Charleston


In addition, Gaffney S.C. reported sighting the Hispania, Spanish entry, about 6 o'clock. It was moving toward Charleston, S.C.

The Italian balloon Dux was reported sighted near Spartansburg S.C. about 7 o'clock. It was traveling southeast.

This accounted for all the balloons sighted during the afternoon except the one reported from Asheville, N.C. and for which a search was being organized. It was believed however that the balloon observed there was either the Wallonie which landed at Greenville or another balloon said to have passed over Greenville about two hours later. The southeast wind would indicate a course between the two cities. -


Kepner Drops His Radio - LENOIR, N.C. September 11 - (AP)


The United States Army balloon, last entry of the Gordon Bennett Cup race to leave Detroit last night, passed over this city at 6:40 o'clock to-night.

Captain W E Kepner, the pilot, evidently had exhausted virtually all of his ballast in getting over the Appalachian Mountain range, for just as he passed over the edge of the city the pilot dropped his radio set overboard.

A parachute was attached to the radio set, and it landed without damage in the yard of Frank T Holman. Holman and W T and Clyde Jackisson were the first to get the radio set and will forward it to Captain Kepner's address. The balloon was making about forty miles an hour, east-southeast.


German Bag Lands in Lake Erie - SANDUSKY, Ohio, September 11 (AP)


With its gas valves jammed and refusing to function the German balloon Brandenburg, which left Detroit yesterday in the Gordon Bennett Cup race landed last night on tiny Sugar Island, twenty-one miles out in Lake Erie. The bag was piloted by Dr Reinhold Halben and Hugo Kaulen Jr. They passed the night in a cottage on the island.-


U.S. Balloon Lands in Georgia As Race Winner. - Detroit Outstays 14 Rivals in 800-Mile Drift to Take Bennett Cup 2d Time for America in Two Years. - Goodyear VI Is Second - Winds Fail to Waft Bags to Record; Entries Dot South; One on Lake Erie Island - (By the Associated Press) DETROIT, September 12 [1927]


With all of the entrants in the annual Gordon Bennett balloon race landed safely to-night indications were that the United States entry, Detroit, piloted by R G Hill of Detroit had won. Hill's balloon was brought down at Baxley, Ga. several miles farther from the starting point here than any of the other entries.

Only a few miles short of the point reached by the Detroit were grouped three other balloons, the Lafayette, French entry; the Goodyear VI, another United States entry, and the Barmen, Germany's representative.

The Lafayette landed at Waverly Hall, Ga., the Barmen at Fort Valley, Ga., and the Goodyear VI at Waverly, Ga.


One Lands on Lake Island


The others of the fifteen entries were strung out through the Carolinas and north as far as Sugar Island, in Lake Erie, off Sandusky, Ohio. The balloons and the landing places follow: - [list]


Distance Governs Award


Although the winner of the race will not be officially named until a final check-up and inspection of the balloon barographs is made by the International Aeronautical Association in Washington, there is little doubt that Hill and his co-pilot A G Schlosser, have won a leg on the historical Bennett trophy.

The award is based alone on distance from the starting point, and the fact that the Detroit was in the air longer than the other entries does not enter into the compilations.

The distance traversed by the Detroit is approximately 800 miles by air line, far short of the distance record for the event.


Winds Impede Aeronauts


However the distance attained was considered very good by promoters of the race, in view of the recalcitrant winds prevailing at the start Saturday afternoon.

The victory of the United States entry marked the second consecutive year that America has won. W T Van Orman won a leg on the trophy last year at Antwerp when he distanced competitors by taking his bag from there to Solvoberg, Sweden.


Goodyear VI Gets Second Place             [Sept 13, 1927]


Bennett Cup Victor Pays Tribute to Rival Pilot - Hill Jubilant at Winning Balloon Race Over Van Orman and 13 entries; Was 2d Last Year. BAXLEY, Ga., [Tuesday] September 13 [1927]


E J Hill, pilot of the balloon Detroit in the Gordon Bennett international race, was jubilant when informed here to-day that apparently he had won the race, giving the United States its second consecutive victory in the event.

Hill, who with A G Schlosser, his aid, brought the bag down almost in the center of this little town, said that victory in the race would mean fulfillment of a long cherished ambition. He expressed his pleasure upon learning that Ward T Van Orman, pilot of the Goodyear VI had landed at Adrian, Ga., about 40 miles away.

"You know," he said, "I won the right to compete in the Bennett race by taking second place in the national balloon race at Akron last May. I lost first place to Van Orman, who traveled sixty-eight miles farther than my balloon carried me, and to navigate a balloon farther than Mr Van Orman, I feel, is an achievement that adds to my victory for he is one of the best pilots I know of."

The victory by Hill and Schlosser in the Detroit is the sixth victory for America; Belgium has five victories to their credit.