Chapter 1 - 1906


Saturday, September 29, 1906

READY FOR BIG BALLOON RACE - Sixteen Competitors Start Sunday from Tuileries Gardens in Paris. - WITH 3,000 SANDBAGS - Aero Club to Receive Airships Today and Attend to the Filling with Gas. - SEVEN NATIONS REPRESENTED - Lots Drawn at Aero Club Settles Order of Departure, Italy being One to Start First.- [SPECIAL CABLE TO THE HERALD] HERALD BUREAU, No. 49 Avenue de L'Opera, Paris.

The Herald's European edition publishes the following: At the Tuileries Gardens this afternoon the officials of the Aero Club de France will receive and examine the sixteen balloons which will take part to-morrow in the contest for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes.

Among other things to be attended to are the filling of nearly three thousand sand bags and placing each balloon in position ready for inflation. In the evening the competitors will meet at a dinner given by the Aero Club.

The start of the race to-morrow will be witnessed by deputations from all the provincial clubs affiliated with the Aero Club and also by the complete staff of the Lebaudy aerostatic establishment at Moisson.


Mr. Rolls, after Balloon Race, Will Come to America. [SPECIAL CABLE TO THE HERALD] The Herald's European edition publishes the following from its correspondent: - London, Saturday. – (September 29, 1906)

The Hon. G. S. Rolls, who won the international automobile tourist cup in the race at the Isle of Man on Thursday and who left London for Paris yesterday to take part in the balloon race for the international cup, told the HERALD correspondent just before leaving that he had booked passage on the Baltic, sailing for New York on October 10, when he hopes to take part in any automobiling contests that may be taking place in America in the near future.


[In 1904, two years earlier, Rolls-Royce came out with its first car, with a 10 horsepower motor.]


SEVEN NATIONS TO TAKE PART - Everything in readiness for the Race and Many Competitors Have Made Trial Trips. As September 30 approaches, more and more interest is being manifested in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, the most important aeronautic contest organized hitherto, says the European edition of the HERALD. Everything is ready, and many of the competitors - they are sixteen in number - have already made trial trips. The start will be given at the Tuileries Gardens, in Paris. A small charge will be made for admission, the proceeds to go to the fund for the Victims of Duty.

No change has been made in the list of entries. It has already appeared in the HERALD, and is as follows: -

Germany (Deutscher Luftschiffer Verland?) - Baron von Hewald, Herr "Hugo" and Herr Scherl.

Belgium (Aero Club de Belgique) M. Van den Driesche.

Spain (Real Aero Club de Espana). Captain Kindelan y Duany, Senor F. G. de Salamanca and Senor Don Emilio Herrera.

America (Aero Club of America). Mr. Frank Lahm and M. Santos-Dumont.


[Monsieur Santos-Dumont comes from Brazil, but registered as an American. He was already famous for having won the Deutsch Prize in October 1901, for flying a dirigible several miles, around the Eiffel Tower, and back to start.]


[wonderful picture of Santos-Dumont at his google site, also his balloon in Lahm victory article]


Great Britain (Aero Club of the United Kingdom). Mr. Frank Butler, the Hon. C.S. Rolls and Professor Huntington.

France (Aero Club de France). M. Jacques Balsan, Comte de Castillon de Saint-Victor and Comte Henry de La Vaulx.

Italy (Societa Aeronautica Italiana). Signor Alfredo Vonwiller.


The maximum capacity of the balloons is 2200 cubic metres. Many of them were specially constructed for the contest.

The balloons will be inflated by the side of the pond nearest to the Place de la Concorde. There will be two stands, one on the Terrasse de l'Orangerie and the other on the Terrasse du Jeu de Paume. Three bands will be in attendance.

According to the Echo de Paris, lots have been drawn at the Aero Club de France to decide the order of starting. The drawing gave the following result: -

1- Signor Alfredo Vonwiller, Italy.

2 -Herr Hugo von Abercron, Germany

3 - Comte Henry de La Vaulx, France.

4- Senor Emilio Herrera, Spain

5 -The Hon. C.S. Rolls, Great Britain

6 -M. Santos-Dumont, America

7 -M. Van den Driesche, Belgium.

8 -Herr Scherl, Germany

9 - Comte de Castillon de Saint-Victor, France.

10 - Senor de Salamanca, Spain

11 - Mr. Frank Butler, Great Britain.

12 - Mr. Frank Lahm, America.

13 - Baron von Hewald, Germany.

14 - M, Jacques Balsan, France

15 - Captain Kindelan, Spain.

16 - Professor Huntington, Great Britain.

The first balloon will ascend at four o'clock in the afternoon. The organization will be in the hands of the following stewards:  M. Emile Mallet, Mayor Paul Renard, M. Paul Rousseau and M. Edouard Surcouf.


AERONAUTICS RAGE WITH PARISIANS - [NY Herald - New York, Saturday, September 29, 1906] Many members of the Aero Club of America have made ascensions in France this summer, according to Cortlandt F. Bishop, who arrived yesterday on the Provence, of the French Line, after passing the summer abroad.

"Interest in aeronautics is certainly intense just now," said Mr. Bishop, "and many of our members who are in Europe will see the start of the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes on Sunday."

"Lieutenant Lahm, of the Seventh United States Cavalry, has been substituted for his father in charge of one of the American balloons in the contest, and I understand that he will take with him Monsieur Levee, who made several ascensions over here last spring."

"By the way, James C. McCoy, a Perth Amboy banker, has been taking a course in aeronautics in Paris. He has made ten ascensions and is to get his certificate from the French Aero Club this week. Many American women have made ascensions over there this summer."


AERO CLUB MADE GREAT PREPARATIONS -          According to the HERALD's Paris cables great activity has been manifested for several weeks at the headquarters of the Aero Club de France, No. 84 Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, where the final arrangements for the contest for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes were made.

The quantity of gas required to fill sixteen balloons is 34,000 cubic meters. At the Tuileries Gardens 5,000 square meters of tarpaulins were used to protect the envelopes, and the number of sand bags was 2,600.

Everybody congratulated Comte Henry de la Vaulx, vice president of the Aero Club, who played an important part. The matter of arrangements was in the hands of Georges Besancon, general secretary of the club.

Maurice Mallet, Paul Renard and Edouard Surcouf were stewards and Paul Rousseau is the timekeeper. Emile Carfort(?) and Louis Godard, experts, examined the balloons and appliances, while the process of inflation was supervised by [8 Names].

Members of the British team made final preparations and ascents with actual balloons entered in the contest.

Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm, one of two American pilots, made ten preparatory ascents in less than one month.

Contessa Salone di Compello, who offered a cup for the best voyage made by a British balloon in the contest for the Coupe Internationale, is a member of the Aero Club of the United Kingdom and the Societa Aeronautica Italia. She has made a number of successful ascents.

The following questions have been printed in English, French, German, Russian and Latin - 'We have just come down in a balloon and are competing in a race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes from Paris. Will you be so kind as to show us on this map where we are? 2 - What country is this? 3 - What is the name of the nearest important town and how far is it? 4 - What is the name of the nearest railway station, and how far is it? 5 - Can we obtain a cart to carry this balloon to the railway station? 6 - Would you be so kind to go and see if you can get us a cart? 7 - Will you take me to the house of the Mayor or chief official of this place, as I wish to have this certificate of descent verified and signed by him in accordance with the rules of the race? 9 - What is the name of this village or town, so that we will not be taken by the Russian police or Cossacks for aerial anarchists?

The competitors provided themselves with colored food tins of German design, which will keep soup or coffee warm for many hours.




Sunday, September 30, 1906


AERONAUTS READY FOR INTERNATIONAL BALLOON RACE? - BALLOONS SPREAD FOR GREAT RACE - Tuileries Gardens Busy Scene as Aeronauts Get Ready for To-Day. - WIND CHIEF QUESTION - Continues to Blow in Westerly Direction, and Grave Doubts Exist of a Sudden Change. - MAY BE ONLY A SHORT SPIN - Trips from Paris to the Sea Would Not Afford True Test of Capacity and Skill. - [SPECIAL CABLE TO THE HERALD.] HERALD BUREAU, No 49, Avenue de L'Opera. Paris, Sunday. 

The HERALD's European edition publishes the following: - The Tuileries Gardens yesterday afternoon presented a strikingly busy scene as balloon after balloon was brought up and spread out in readiness for today's great race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes. Everywhere men of every nationality were unraveling netting, stretching silk and unpacking baskets. The last touches were being made to the system of gas piping, which, like some huge worm, winds in every direction along the ground.

Most of the competitors were present in order to see that the work of unpacking the balloons was executed with care. At five o'clock, the only well known aeronaut who had not put in an appearance was M. Santos-Dumont. He was busy at Neuilly putting the last touches to his novel basket, with motor and propellers. He expressed full confidence in being ready in time.


[Santos-Dumont’s basket was equipped with a motor that ran two propellers, which were attached horizontally alongside the basket, designed to propel the balloon upwards. This was the only instance in the entire history of the JGB Races where a balloon had a mechanical means of propulsion.]


All Fear the West Wind


The Honorable C. S. Rolls, Professor Huntington, Comte Henry de la Vaulx and Mr. Frank H. Butler were conspicuous figures. All expressed keen disappointment at the fact that the wind continued to blow in a westerly direction. All had grave doubts of a change for today. Professor Huntington seemed exceptionally disappointed.

He said that after the trouble to which all those engaged in the contest had been put it would be more than annoying if a good race did not result. However, if the wind did not change nothing more than a short spin could possibly be hoped for. The weather is fine and clear, but the great question is the direction of the wind.

Balloon trips from Paris westward to the sea would be necessarily so short that it would be considered amateurish by aeronauts. Hence all are praying for a wind that will blow them eastward and thus afford a true test of the capacity of the balloons and the skill of the pilots.


Aero Club's Notice


The Aero Club issues the following official announcement: -

"The Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes will be disputed today for the first time. Sixteen pilots, selected by seven countries, will start from the Tuileries Gardens. From two to four o'clock in the afternoon, bands will play, pilot balloons will ascend and homing pigeons will be flown.

"The departure of the sixteen balloons will begin at half past four in the following order, with an interval of a few minutes between each balloon.  [list – see above]

"The public will be admitted to the Gardens at nine o'clock through the Castiglione and Solferino gates, the entrance fee being fifty centimes. After one o'clock the Jeanne d'Arc and Carrousel gates will be opened. Two francs will be charged for admittance to the Terrasse du Jeu de Paume and five francs to the Terrasse de l'Orangerie, the proceeds to go to the fund for the Victims of Duty."


Monday October 1, 1906


MILLION PERSONS CHEER STARTERS IN BALLOON RACE – Sixteen Aeronauts Sail aloft from the Tuileries Gardens in a Great World Contest. – INTERNATIONAL CUP THE CHIEF PRIZE – Long Distance Struggle Was Arranged to Break Record of Comte de la Vaulx. – MNAY TRIAL ASCENSIONS – Crowds Applaud M. Santos-Dumont, Who introduces the one Novelty in the Meeting. – PERIL INCREASES INTEREST – Bands Play and All Other amusements of the Day are Forgotten In This Initial Competition. (Special Cable to the Herald)

The Herald’s European edition publishes the following: - It is said that “art knows no frontiers.” Neither do balloons. This was the one idea which must have been present in the minds of many thousands this afternoon just before the start for the great race – that purely sporting event which has been occupying the attention of the world for many weeks. The balloon knows no frontier. It is swept wherever the wind blows, and once launched into space it is beyond all human control from below. It knows neither “douanes” nor “octrols,” and even such natural barriers as the Alps and the Pyrenees prove no obstacle.

The balloon has but one enemy, the sea, and it was the fact that the wind bore toward the Atlantic to-day that caused the pilots to walk about with serious faces and augur ill for the coming night.

By three o’clock the Place de la Concorde, the Quais, the lower part of the Champs Elysees and the Tuileies Gardens were black with spectators. Traffic was at a standstill. For the time being aeronautics were triumphant. Even the automobile was compelled to halt. It was not until the last balloon had left that circulation could be resumed.

There are few finer spots for the start of a balloon contest than the Tuileries Gardens. The break of open space at the northern end is ideal for the inflation of the gas bags, and the trees at the southern end form a fitting screen and picturesque background. This morning all the balloons were in place ready for takeoff. Toward nine o’clock the gas was turned on, and so perfect were the arrangements that by noon all the balloons were practically inflated.



Sea the Dreaded Barrier in Great Balloon Race - Wind from the East Caused Much Anxiety Among the Friends of the Venturous Aeronauts in the Tuileries Gardens. - AERO CLUB'S CONTEST EXCITES PARIS -



By three o'clock the crowd commenced to assemble. The conditions were exceedingly pleasant. The sun was as warm as in late autumn. The wind, however annoying to aeronauts, was distinctly agreeable to the spectators, and the gardens were in their prime.

The silence that marks the start of an aeronautic contest is charming. The only noise is the murmur of the crowd. There is no thundering din as at an automobile contest, no deafening exhausts, no dust. All is so calm and peaceful that even the birds come circling around and perch on the competing aerostats.

Today this silence was more pronounced than ever. The wind was so light that it seemed it scarcely stirred the leaves. Each departure seemed more peaceful than that which preceded it.


Sporting Idea Ruled.


In the past thousands would have assembled from time to time in the Champ de Mars or at the Crystal Palace in England to see some balloon soar heavenward with pigs and goats as passengers. Men and women would strain their necks to see the "Professor" drop clinging to a parachute. They would cheer him to the echo when he reached the ground in safety. Today there was none of this. It was sport pure and simple.

Every competitor had but one object, namely to maintain his reputation and win the trophy which would symbolize the feat.

Even the crowd seemed to be aware of the change. There was none of that gaping curiosity which marked the early days of ballooning. A walk around the enclosure before the start was very entertaining. It was a study in itself to mark the various types of aeronaut present. The stolid German, the sprightly Frenchman, the indifferent Spaniard and the cool Englishman were there. The difference in baskets was also well marked. Some were so small that two made a crowd within. Others were so spacious that it was possible to recline at full length on the floor. All were evidently strong and well stocked with provisions.


Watching Santos-Dumont


M. Santos-Dumont had the most photographic attention. The hero of the "heavier than air" theory looked perfectly at home, even with a gas bag, though this was undoubtedly due to the novel equipment of horizontal propellers and a motor with which he provided his car. He was completing his device until a late hour on Saturday and everything was ready for the preliminary spin of the motor. Toward half-past three o'clock it was shown that propellers must have a great influence on the ascensional force of the balloon. As a matter of fact, this equipment was about the only novelty presented. All other balloons were of the usual shape and carried the usual ballast.

Toward four o'clock the stewards in charge of the proceeding, MM Besancon, Rousseau, Mallet and Surcouf, ordered the first of the sixteen balloons to be placed in position by the side of the round pond. This was M. Alfredo Vonwiller's balloon, the Elfe, representing Italy. One by one the sand bags holding it to the earth were removed and replaced by men. At eleven seconds past the hour the words "Lachez tout!" were pronounced and the Elfe began its voyage.


Caught by the Breeze


Very slowly it mounted upward and bore away toward the west at a height of over 100 meters. The breeze smote it fair and square and carried it across the Seine toward St. Cloud. The band struck up the French national anthem and the crowd cheered, and the race had begun. One by one, at intervals of about five minutes, the other balloons were sent away. There were few incidents. The first was provoked by Comte de La Vaulx. The huge crowd raised deafening shouts as the French champion, holder of the long distance record, left the earth.


 [In 1900, the Count had flown from Paris almost to Moscow, and set a long distance record that was not to be broken until 1912.]


Then a strange thing happened. The balloon rose very slowly and, being caught by a contrary breeze, turned toward the Chamber of Deputies, passing over the orangerie of the Tuileries. As it passed over the hothouse some cool current must have affected it, for it began to descend with astonishing rapidity and indeed came within a very few meters of the ground. A bag or two of ballast had to be sacrificed in order to save the situation. Then the balloon rose to a moderate height, much inferior however to that of the two previous balloons, and thus continued its journey.


[It is very important to save as much ballast as possible on takeoff, in order to have it for future use. Often the winner is the pilot who can conserve ballast the best.]


The second incident occurred in connection with Herr Van den Driesche who, in the Ojouki, represented Belgium. As the balloon left the ground it was noticed that the mouth, which is invariably opened before the start in order that any sudden expansion of gas may not produce an explosion [sic], remained fastened.


 [ Expansion within a closed space would produce increased pressure, and could tear the balloon apart.]


An attempt was made to catch the balloon, but the men were too late. Shouts were raised and the attention of the aeronauts was thus drawn to the situation. The crowd had the satisfaction of seeing the refractory knot untied and the mouth liberated before the balloon disappeared.

M. Santos-Dumont's departure was not marked by any incident, but as it was novel it is worth noting. As soon as the balloon left the ground the horizontal propellers were set in motion in order to enable the balloon to clear the orangerie. The crowd certainly had the impression that M. Santos-Dumont was really flying. Indeed the spectacle of two propellers whirling around at some feet from the car really produced this effect. So far as could be judged the device was a success.

Dusk was falling when the last balloon went away. This was the Zephyr, with Professor Huntington on board. The spectacle of this departure was somewhat melancholy. The public appeared to appreciate the loneliness of the situation and encouraged the genial professor with resounding cheers. When these had died away the fete was over.


Scene of loneliness


Night rapidly fell and the Tuileries Gardens now looked deserted. All that remained were the soldiers, the ballast bags, and the gas pipes. A pigeon perched by the pond looked around with a disconsolate air, and then soaring upward bore away in pursuit of the balloons. What has occurred during the night is impossible to say. The wind which carried the balloons from Paris continued to blow from the same quarter. The pilots should be at this hour, two o'clock in the morning, somewhere near Saint Malo or Brest. Toward noon some definite news should be obtainable.

The following was the order in which the balloons left: -[list -see above]


About an hour and a half into the flight, M. Santos-Dumont, while using his two propellers to change altitude, somehow caught his sleeve in one of the propellers, and injured himself. He descended and landed, and immediately sought medical attention.


[During his descent, he cried, "M'aidez! M'aidez! ("Help me!” in French), and this phrase is still used as a signal of distress: in English, as well as French - Mayday!]


[With the wind from the southeast, the balloons headed northwest from Paris. Most landed at the French coast (9), but a few ventured on to England (7)...]


WEDNESDAY, October 3, 1906


LAHM WINS BALLOON RACE; ROLLS FOURTH - American Officer's Remarkable Trip to Scarborough [England] Gives Him Victory Beyond Doubt. - ITALY IS SECOND, FRANCE COMES NEXT - English Aeronaut Lands at Sandringham, but He May Claim Third Place. - IN NEW YORK IN 1907 - Victor has Good Wind and Fair Voyage and Was Too Interested in the Contest to Eat. - [SPECIAL CABLE TO THE HERALD]

The HERALD's European edition publishes the following: - An American wins the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes. Lieutenant Frank P Lahm, son of Frank S Lahm, one of the most enthusiastic of Aero Club members in France, has, by a remarkable voyage to Scarborough, beaten all other competitors and placed beyond all shadow of doubt his victory. The only other man who came within measurable distance of defeating him was Signor Vonwiller, Italy's only representative, who was caught by practically the same air current and succeeded in reaching New Holland, just in the neighborhood of Hull.

The third is Comte Henry de La Vaulx, who descended at Wells, on the Wash, while the fourth place falls to the Hon. C.S. Rolls, whose descent at Sandringham shows him to be a close competitor for third honors with the world's champion. Mr. Rolls, according to a report from London, will make a claim for third place.      


   [They were very close together in landing]


When it was thoroughly demonstrated that the entire band of aeronauts had safely descended discussion began to center around the race in general. Lieutenant Lahm's victory is everywhere commented upon. Considerable surprise is expressed that one so young at the sport should have borne the trophy away.


A Former Achievement


Lieutenant Lahm made his first ascent in August, 1904, in company with M. Emile Janets. The ascent was made from the military camp at Chalons. At the descent, which was of a most thrilling and dangerous description, Lieutenant Lahm was thrown out of the basket as it struck the ground. He quickly recognized the danger to which M. Janets would be exposed if the balloon should bound up again and like a flash seized the trail rope as the balloon shot upward and clung to it, working his way into the basket again at infinite peril to his life. The result was that the descent was operated in safety and M. Janets was spared an unusually trying experience.

Lieutenant Lahm's father, Mr. F. S. Lahm, who was previously designated as one of the American representatives, left Paris on Friday for New York.


[His wife let him know that his presence was requested at the marriage of his daughter.]


The tendency of the Aero Club last evening was to look upon the French performances in a melancholy light. Every one granted that the Comte de La Vaulx had done what he could and indeed seeing the place at which he crossed the channel, east of Hastings, he certainly covered an immense English area. No one, however, could understand why it was that M. Jacques Balsam and the Comte de Castillon de Saint Victor had failed to make a more satisfactory progress north.


Comte de La Vaulx disappointed


Comte Henry de La Vaulx told a HERALD correspondent last night that he was deeply disappointed. He thought on descending that he must be the winner, as he could not conceive that a more favorable breeze had been met with under the circumstances than the one which had borne him along.

By the rules governing the race the American club will have the decision as to where next year's race shall start. It will also have the organization of the event. Of course it is too soon to even predict what will be done, though the general opinion seems to be that if the Atlantic has to be crossed in order to compete the event will not be as much of an international character as this year.


LIEUTENANT LAHM TELLS OF HIS TRIP - Had a Fine Passage from Paris, but, Wind Veering, He Descended Near Whitby. [SPECIAL CABLE TO THE HERALD] The HERALD European edition publishes the following from its correspondent: - LONDON, Tuesday, (October 2, 1906) - Lieutenant Frank P Lahm, winner of the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, looked extremely pleased when seen by a correspondent of the HERALD at the Hotel Cecil, in London, prior to his departure to-night for Paris.

He said the early part of his voyage was of a most peaceful character. The velocity of the wind was not very great, and he made the early part of the journey practically at an altitude of three thousand feet. This gave him a good wind for some time, his direction being somewhat westward of the Seine and Havre.

After some time the current of air lessened, so, in order to gain a good current, he dropped to about fifteen hundred feet. As he neared the English Channel he came still nearer the surface and crossed the water with the trail rope dragging in the sea.

When once the United States came in sight of land again Lieutenant Lahm increased its altitude again to more than two thousand feet and the first place he recognized was Chichester, on the south coast. Here the wind favored a northerly direction, but after traveling for some time it veered toward the northwest [should read southwest] and gradually drove them toward the east coast.

Seeing there was nothing in front of  (continued)



BALLOON RACE FOR NEW YORK - As Holder of the Trophy Club Here Will Organize the Event. - LIEUTENANT LAHM'S TRIP -Winner Only Stopped Voyage When Threatened with Being Carried Out to Sea. - MR ROLLS IN FOURTH PLACE - But May Make Claim to Contest for Third Position with Comte Henry de La Vaulx. -


them except risking the sea once more, Lieutenant Lahm and Major Hersey gradually dropped toward the ground. Their balloon came down at ten minutes after three p.m.

"This is my fifteenth ascent," said the winner, "and strange to say, it turned out to be the longest journey I ever made in the air. Being an American, the only thing I am sorry about is that my balloon was not of American manufacture. It was made in France.

"Still, the very fact that an American won the international trophy in the year of its inception is sure to stimulate ballooning in America, and I am extremely pleased to think I am the first of what I hope will be a long list of Americans to win the great prize.

"We naturally prepared ourselves for all eventualities in the line of food, but as a matter of fact, both Major Hersey and myself were so keen on the race that neither of us troubled ourselves about eating. We were neither hungry nor sleepy, and from the start until the time we landed neither of us thought of anything but the contest."


[They apparently did eat dinner the first night while crossing the Channel, but promptly forgot]


MR ROLLS FOURTH IN BALLOON RACE - Paris, Tuesday, October 2, 1906. A dispatch was received by the Aero Club to-day announcing that the Hon. C. S. Rolls and his companion, Colonel Capper, in the balloon Brittania, landed at Sandringham Upland at half-past six last night, twenty-six and a quarter hours from the time of his departure from Paris.

Lieutenant Lahm covered 415 miles, against 370 miles, covered by Signor VonWiller, his nearest competitor. 


[picture of the first cup!]


The beautiful cup, presented for competition, becomes a trophy of the Aero Club of America. The first cash prize of $2,900 goes to Lieutenant Lahm, and the endurance medal to Mr. Rolls, who was the longest in the air.


[Mr Rolls contested his position in 4th place, and according to Lt Lahm, was awarded third place. Mr Rolls also forgot to send a telegraph after he had landed, and was accused of trying to create publicity for himself.]


M. Santos-Dumont says he considers Lieutenant's Lahm's trip to be a daring exploit, and that Lieutenant Lahm himself is destined to make his mark in the aeronautical world.


[Lieutenant Lahm was later asked to form the Army Air Force!]


Official announcement of the distances made by the various contestants and the allotment of the money prizes is not expected for several days. Congratulatory cablegrams are pouring in for Lieutenant Lahm.


COMPANION OF WINNER - [SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE HERALD] Chicago, Il. Tuesday October 2, 1906 - Major H. B. Hersey, who was Lieutenant Lahm's companion in the balloon race, formerly accompanied Mr. Walter Wellman on his trip to the Arctic as meteorologist of the expedition. He was head of the Weather Bureau in Milwaukee, and before that was stationed at Ithaca, N.Y. where, in addition to his bureau duties he was instructor in climatology in the Agricultural Department of Cornell University.


[When Frank P Lahm became the designated pilot, he planned to fly with a Frenchman, M. Levee. But other Frenchmen intervened, and persuaded M. Levee not to fly with the American, and possibly help him beat a French entrant. So at the last minute, Lahm took on Major Hersey, who had taught meteorology at Cornell. Some later credited the Major's knowledge of the weather as significantly helping them win.]



GREAT IMPORTANCE TO THE ARMY -            [SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE HERALD] West Point, N.Y. Tuesday, October 2, 1906 - Among former fellow officers, teachers and students at the West Point Military Academy the announcement of the victory of Lieutenant Frank P Lahm in the international balloon race was received with great satisfaction. Lieutenant Lahm was one of the most popular men at West Point in his cadet days, making the football team as quarterback, and as an instructor he was even more popular. But not only because of his personal popularity was there great satisfaction among the academy officers over Lieutenant Lahm's victory, but even more so because his success means an increased interest in aerostatics in the American army. Among many officers at the academy there is a strong belief that balloons and aerial craft must play a far more important part in future wars than in the past, and the United States army must have more officers thoroughly acquainted with aerial navigation.

"It was a great victory," declared Colonel H.L Scott, who has recently become superintendent of the academy, 'and I feel mighty good to think one of our army men captured the trophy for America. There is no doubt aerostatics will play an important part in the next great war and the United States should not be behind the other countries.

"Much credit is due to the young lieutenant who has won this victory. If his victory increases government interest in aerostatics, as I believe it will, even more credit will be due to the man who made this great race possible, by offering the handsome trophy. I am glad that one of our West Point boys captured the prize."


AERO CLUB ISSUES NOTICE FOR 1907 - News of the victory of Lieutenant Lahm, an American, in the balloon race for the international cup was received in this city with enthusiasm. Aside from national pride in the result of the contest, balloon enthusiasts are jubilant because, through Lieutenant Lahm's victory, they see an immediate and wide spreading boom for aerostatics in the United States.

More gratifying is the result of the race because of the fact that the victor, a young man, was accompanied by an assistant, Major Hersey, whose aerial voyage was taken without preparation.

At the local Aero Club, when the final returns were communicated through the HERALD, enthusiasm knew no bounds and the day was made one of congratulation and celebration. Through Mr. Carl Dienstbach, the club has issued the following statement: -

"Under the rules it has now become the pleasant duty of the Aero Club of America, highly honoring for the youngest organization of its kind in the world, to arrange on at least the same gorgeous scale, the second international aerial cup race, to be run between April 1 and November 1, 1907, on this side of the ocean.

Entrance fee is to be $100, gas and other accommodations to be furnished by the club. Motor balloons and also mechanically supported flying machines are to be allowed to compete. Lieutenant Lahm's winning balloon, together with the prize, which promises to become another 'America's Cup' will be placed on exhibition at the forthcoming annual aerial show."

Dr. Julian P Thomas, a well-known local devotee of ballooning, says: - "Lieutenant Lahm's victory is a great one, and we cannot sufficiently congratulate him on his record. We are all looking forward now to the race here next year. The American victory is a splendid one from an army standpoint. Experiments to date by the army with ballooning have not been ultra successful. The victory of the young lieutenant, however, will hasten the development of aerial navigation in the army."

Captain Homer W Hedge, president of the Aero Club of America, says: - "The American victory will undoubtedly influence the United States government to act quickly in the matter of making an appropriation to be devoted toward the development of ballooning as a science, for purposes of experiment, wireless telegraphy, observation and exploration and for affairs military. I have asked the government to appropriate $100,000 for the development of ballooning, and through the acting chief signal officer of the War Department, have received a reply that is very satisfactory. Lieutenant Lahm's victory will now assuredly hasten governmental decision.

Lieutenant Lahm's victory was due without doubt to his West Point training, his brain and his knowledge of air currents."



[It is intriguing to speculate on the dynamics within the Lahm family. The father, Mr. Frank S. Lahm was an enthusiastic balloon pilot who had been designated to represent America in this race. Almost at the last minute, he was called home to be present at the marriage of his daughter. His son, Frank P Lahm, took his place in the race. Just how much did the mother and daughter know about the goings on in Paris? Did they plan the marriage to give the son the opportunity? We may never know.]




Here follows the winner’s story, as told by the winner himself.


The First Annual Aeronautic Cup Race

                        By Lieut. Frank P. Lahm

                        Sixth Cavalry, U.S. Army


(By courtesy of the Journal of Military Service Institution)


The first annual contest for the aeronautic cup, offered by Mr. James Gordon Bennett, started from the Tuileries Gardens, in Paris, on September 30, 1906.

            Sixteen balloons, representing seven different countries – the United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Spain, were entered, and in spite of the difficulties due to time, distance and expense, every one of the sixteen started on the 30th – truly a good record, and one seldom equaled in other sports.

            Less than a year ago Mr. Bennett placed a cup in the hands of the Aero Club of France, which gladly assumed the responsibility for organizing the first of these contests. How well it acquitted itself of its task is attested by the success achieved at the Tuileries Gardens on the 30th of September. Sixteen balloons, requiring in all over a million cubic feet of gas, were prepared, filled and started off in the presence of 200,000 spectators, without a pause, without a hitch, exactly according to the published program.

            The first balloon started at 4 PM. Long before that time the gardens and the large Place de la Concorde adjoining were packed with a curious and interested crown. Several bands were on hand to enliven the occasion. Countless numbers of small toy balloons, of inflated figures of men and animals made out of goldbeater’s skin, were released during the hours preceding the start of the first balloon. Finally a flock of carrier pigeons was set free. All this, combined with the natural gaiety of a French holiday gathering, made a fascinating and long-to-be-remembered scene.

            Lots had been drawn for the order of starting, and Signor Vonwiller of the Italian Club, drew first place. At exactly four o’clock, his beautiful silk balloon the Elfe rose slowly and gracefully from the starting point beside the little pond at the upper end of the gardens. Passing over the Place de la Concorde, he started directly west. Then in their designated order and at five-minute intervals, followed the fifteen remaining balloons. None drew more applause than Santos-Dumont, who, true to his mechanical ingenuity, went up with a six-horse-power motor buzzing away, driving two horizontal propellers destined to give a vertical motion to his balloon, dispensing with his having to throw out ballast.

            My balloon, the United States, representing the Aero Club of America, was the twelfth to start. My companion was Major Henry B. Hersey, of the Rough Riders of ’98, and at present chief executive of the Wellman Polar Expedition. We took our places in the car at 4:40, were “lead” to the starting-point by the squad of balloon soldiers especially detailed from the French balloon troops for that day, and at 4:55 we left the earth. Like all the preceding balloons we went directly west, following the Seine for a distance, passing the Eiffel Tower, across the Longchamps racetrack, where the crowd was just breaking up after the races, across the Seine again at St. Cloud and out into the country, keeping at an altitude of 600 to 1200 feet. For the first two hours we had four other balloons quite near us. One from its yellow color we easily recognized as one of the three German balloons; another, from its elongated shape, we knew to be the English balloon Brittania, piloted by Mr. Rolls. As night came on they disappeared one by one, till finally at 9:30 PM, all were lost to view.

            As long as daylight lasted we had no trouble whatever in tracing our course on the maps we carried; but after dark this became more difficult, and we had to depend on the speaking trumpet. By calling down to the villagers we could make ourselves heard and generally received a reply. Before 11:00 we had passed over Lisieux, the 300-foot guide rope just grazing the tops of the houses. By this time we had undergone a decided change of direction and were traveling northwest. It was evident before leaving Paris that we should strike the sea, so I had taken the precaution to carry along a dozen wooden hoops, about a foot in diameter, and as I emptied the first ballast bags of their sand I tied a hoop in the mouth of each one, then attached a cord to the hoop. This contrivance is called a cone anchor, and is taken as a precaution if there is a chance of being carried out to sea. By trailing it in the water the progress of the balloon is retarded, thus giving a vessel an opportunity to overtake the balloon.

            At seventeen minutes past 11 PM we slipped quietly out over the English Channel, the end of the guide rope just off the water, and began the second and most interesting part of our trip. Our direction on reaching the Channel would have taken us out to the southwestern extremity of England, but again the wind veered and we were traveling west of north.

            To describe the beauty of the Channel crossing would require the pen of a master. With a full moon shining overhead, an almost cloudless sky, the balmy air, and, except for the gentle breaking of the waves beneath us, not a sound to disturb the perfect calm, nothing could be more charming, nothing more delightful. With occasional reference to the compass and North Star, we knew our direction was good, so had no uneasiness on that score. Sitting on the bottom of the car on the ballast bags, occasionally looking over to see if the guide rope was clear of the water, if not, throwing out a scoopful of sand to send us up a few feet, we quietly ate our long-postponed dinner of sandwiches, chicken, eggs, fruit, coffee, and other good things which we had laid in before starting. Once a little sailing vessel slipped under us and disappeared in the night. This was the only sign of life we saw in the Channel. The revolving light on the coast at Havre was on our right at the start, but we soon left it behind.

            At 2:30 AM a revolving light appeared ahead of us, and we knew we were approaching the English shore. On coming closer we were able to recognize that this light was on a lightship. An hour later, we were over the terra firma of old England. Soon afterward the lights of a large city appeared on our left. We knew this must be Chichester, in the county of Sussex.

Then the friendly moon deserted us, and heavy mists covered up the lowlands, so that we lost sight of the earth, catching only an occasional glimpse of the black tops of the trees under the end of the guide rope. The first color of dawn showed itself in the east before five o’clock, but due to the mist and fog, it was past six before we were able to distinguish clearly the ground beneath us. We were forcibly impressed with the fact that the English farmer is not an early riser, for the loud and continued shouts of my companion did not bring forth a response till past seven. Then we learned that we had crossed the counties of Sussex and Hampshire in the fog, and were then over Berkshire.

            All morning we journeyed up over England, past Warwick Castle, past Stratford-on-Avon. Then the warm sun came out, heating and expanding the gas in the balloon and carrying us higher and higher in the air.

            At two o’clock in the afternoon we had reached an altitude of 10,000 feet. As we rose higher, our direction changed to east of north. From the direction of clouds at a lower level than ourselves, and of the smoke at the ground, we knew that the lower currents of air would take us farther to the west, so we started down in the hope of being able to change our direction sufficiently to take us into Scotland. A few minutes more brought us to the brown and barren moors, and then the coast of the North Sea loomed up straight ahead of us. It was necessary to hasten the descent, so I opened the valve and allowed a good supply of gas to escape. Down we came until the guide rope was trailing on the moors. We knew it was just a question of minutes until we should be at sea; but as the wind had changed slightly, we hoped to continue long enough to reach a more settled district, and possibly a railroad station. A few minutes more and we had reached the edge of the moors; then a little railroad appeared to the right, running along the coast. Another minute and a small station was in sight. A farmhouse ahead looked inviting, so we decided to land. But I had overestimated the gripping power of my anchor, for on striking the ground it tore up a little sod, then let go, and the wind carried us on. A stone wall served only to twist the shank of the anchor.

            Finally, due to the loss of gas, the car struck the ground in a field a half mile past the house, jumped up just high enough to clear a stone wall, came down again, turned on its side, dragged a few yards after the tugging balloon, then stopped. On striking the second time, I pulled the “rip cord” which tears a large strip out of the top of the balloon. The gas rushed out, and our good steed which had carried us so many miles lost his strength and lay stretched out on the meadow, a flat and empty bag.

            Before extricating myself from the ropes, ballast bags and other impediments, I looked at my watch – exactly 3:12 PM. We had been in the air twenty-two hours and seventeen minutes, and according to the measurements of the committee, published since, we had covered over 647 kilometers, or about 410 miles, in a straight line from Paris. Necessarily, the actual distance traveled was considerably longer than this, as our course had not been a straight line at all.

            Our reception by the goodly people of Fyling Dales (the name of the manor) was a most cordial one. The squire himself chanced to be in an adjoining field and hastened up to inquire if we were injured. The amazement of the tenants was amusing. As the squire said, “an earthquake could not have caused more excitement in the neighborhood than had the landing of our balloon.”

            With the cheerful assistance of willing hands, the United States was soon folded, packed on to a wagon, and we were off for the railroad station, a mile away. Fyling Hall was the name of the place, fifteen miles north of Scarborough, in the northern part of the county of York. In the immediate neighborhood, in fact, within sight of our landing spot, were places with familiar and interesting names, such as the Convent of Whitby, and Robin Hood’s Bay. Gladly would we have stopped a day or two in the quaint and attractive district, but we were drawn still more strongly toward London and news of the other balloons.

            As neither of us had had a wink of sleep the night before, we stopped at York for a night’s rest. Next morning I was awakened by vigorous pounding on my door. “Wake up and look at this!” It was Major Hersey, and from the unusually cheery ring in his voice I suspected good news. The morning papers he brought did indeed report us as the winners, although they failed to account for Mr. Rolls of the English Club. On our arrival in London that afternoon all doubts were dispelled when we read the classing of the first four balloons in the following order: the United States first; Signor Vonwiller of the Italian Club, second, landing at Hull, some forty-five miles behind us; Mr. Rolls, third; and Count de La Vaulx, of the French Club, fourth. Nine of the sixteen balloons had not attempted the Channel crossing, but had landed on French soil.

            In marked contrast was our crossing of the Channel that night on our return to Paris, with our beautiful crossing in the Unites States two nights before. A violent southwest wind made the little cross-Channel steamer perform as only those little steamers can, and made us wish regretfully for our aerial craft.

            Our welcome in Paris was a most hearty one. First came the sleepless reporters, then our friends, the secretary of the French Club, then dozens of telegrams, cables and letters. The following evening the Aero Club gave a dinner, presided at by Prince Roland Bonaparte, president of the International Federation of Aero Clubs. After dinner we were treated to an exhibition of moving pictures of the start at the Tuileries, four days before.

            To one who has never had the pleasure of a trip in a balloon it may be interesting to know what we carried with us in the car. In the bottom was a layer of straw to keep us warm. This proved entirely unnecessary. About a third of the space was occupied at the start with the sand used for ballast. This was in twenty-nine sacks, weighing over forty pounds each. Our “navigating” instruments consisted of a registering barometer for telling the height above sea level at any time; a statoscope, which records immediately an ascending or descending movement; two electric lamps for reading the instruments and maps at night (matches and fire of any kind are absolutely forbidden in a balloon, due to the danger of exploding the gas); numerous maps of France, England, Germany and even of all Europe, for a balloonist never knows exactly where the wind may take him; a compass, and a couple of life-preservers for use in case we dropped into the sea. The anchor, guide rope and balloon cover were attached on the outside of the car. A dozen blank forms, to be thrown overboard at intervals, were intended to assist in tracing our course. Whoever picked them up was to fill in the time and place, and mail them to the Aero Club. Six of those I threw out were afterwards received from different points in France and England. Extra cord, heavy clothing, provisions, including a patent bottle from which we were able to drink steaming hot coffee the following morning completed the equipment.

            A tube of oxygen for use at high altitudes, where the air is rare, was left behind at the last minute, as we realized we should not have to go so far. A supply of German money, which I had taken the precaution to procure the day before the race, was of no use, and we had to take advantage of the offer of the good English squire of Fyling Dales. He loaned us enough English money to take us to York, where we were able to change our French money.

            The winning of the cup by a representative of the American Club places the responsibility on that club for organizing the race next year, and already plans are being laid……..


Web Counter