Chapter 22 - 1934


NY Herald Tribune

20 Balloons, 2 American, Start Cup Dash - Favorable Weather Marks Warsaw Spectacle as 8 Nations Try for Record. - Polish Entry Escapes - Pilot Charters Spanish Bag, Barred From the Contest - By The Associated Press - WARSAW, Sunday, September 23, 1934


Twenty big balloons soared gracefully one by one from the Mokopow airfield today in brilliant sunshine and favorable winds, starting the twenty-second annual Gordon Bennett Cup race.

A southwesterly breeze was blowing, with indications of shifting to westward toward midnight, thus making a landing somewhere on Russian soil most probable. The balloons disappeared in the direction of Helsingfors and Leningrad.

Air currents were most advantageous at a height of around 9,000 feet, where the wind velocity was approximately twenty-six miles an hour. Weather forecasts indicated the velocity would increase during the evening.

Large crowds assembled at the airfield and gasped at the brilliance of the spectacle. Huge bags of red, white, silver, and yellow shot up into the blue as ground crews released them.


Frenchman First to Ascend


A pilot balloon, operated by the Frenchman, Georges Sure, was first to ascend. He was accompanied by a French woman balloonist, Mme Collette Weber.

The first competing balloon, a Polish entry, took off at 4:10 p.m. The big United States Navy entrant, carrying Lieutenants C H Kendall and H T Orville, soared away at 4:58 p.m. [?]

It was followed two minutes later by "The Buffalo Courier-Express" balloon with George Hineman and Milford F Vanik.

All twenty balloons were in the air by 5:40 p.m. when the French balloon Lorraine was released, except the Polish bag Torun, formerly the Polonia, which the French pilot, Georges Ravaine, was to take aloft.

By some error the net which supports the basket was too small for the Torun's bag, and an army truck was rushed off to the Jablonna works, sixteen miles from Warsaw, to procure the proper size net.

While the small net was being stripped off, the balloon, apparently not sufficiently deflated, suddenly heaved skyward and vanished into the blue without net, basket or pilot, thus eliminating itself from the race.

The Torun's escape left Ravaine and his co-pilot, R. de Guy, staring helplessly into the air. Tears of disappointment filled the eyes of the white-haired Ravaine. It was later arranged that he would be permitted to charter the Spanish balloon, which had not started owing to French objections and was lying deflated on the field. Workmen started filling it with gas immediately, and Ravaine was to take it up, probably by midnight.


Czechoslovaks Have Trouble


The runaway Torun, after several hours in the air, settled to earth undamaged near the Jablonna works, where it was constructed. There was a possibility that it might be re-inflated to make a belated start in the race.

The crew of the Spanish entrant said they were completely down-hearted at not being able to participate. They had filed application for entrance too late. It had been determined to allow them to compete anyway when they arrived with their equipment, but the French objections stopped that.

The Czechoslovak participants, too, had their share of trouble. They called a relief pilot for Dr D. Fabry, who was taken ill at the last minute. He was to have flown here by airplane, but did not arrive in time, so the German, Major Alfred Hildebrandt, well known pioneer balloonist and friend of Orville and Wilbur Wright, volunteered to take Fabry's place despite his sixty-four years. He went as second pilot.

Nations competing in the race include Germany, Belgium, the United States, France, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia. -


2 U.S. Balloons Down in Russia: 14 Still Afloat - German, Czech and Belgian Entries in Gordon Bennett Cup Race Also Grounded - Poles Protest to Moscow - Report Soviet Guards at Frontier Fired at Ship - By the Associated Press - WARSAW, Monday, September 24, 1934 


Fourteen gaudy-hued balloons, competitors in the twenty-second annual Gordon Bennett Cup race, presumably floated somewhere over Russia tonight as the first twenty-four hours of the event saw six, among them the two American entries, come back to earth.

Dusk found the United States Navy balloon, the "Buffalo Courier-Express" entry, the German entries the Stadt Essen and Van Opel, the Czechoslovak, Bratislava and the Belgian, Bruxelles grounded on Estonian, Latvian or Russian soil.

There was a report from Riga, Latvia, that one balloon, not identified, had been fired on by Soviet frontier guards as it crossed the border into Russia. The Polish Aero Club was informed of the reported incident but could give no further information until the matter was investigated. There was no confirmation of the report from other sources.


Buffalo Entry Lands on Lake


George Hineman and Milford K. Vanik, piloting the Buffalo, landed safely on the banks of Chudskoy Lake, near the Russian city of Gdov, and went on to Gdov.

The United States Navy's balloon came down on the border between Estonia and Russia, dispatches from Moscow said, and Lieutenants C.H. Kendall and H.T. Orville proceeded to Leningrad.

Both the German entries came down on Estonian territory, the Van Opel being slightly damaged while the Czechoslovak craft landed on the Latvian-Russian frontier near Fytalowo. The Bruxelles came down fifteen miles northeast of Vitebsk, U.S.S.R., Moscow reported.

Of the participants still not reported down, only the Belgian Belgique had been sighted since the start here yesterday afternoon, at Slonim, Poland 187 miles northeast of Warsaw. -


Protest Brings Explanation


WARSAW, September 24 (UP)  - A hot protest from the Polish Aero Club to Moscow today against reported firing at balloons elicited the explanation that the Soviet frontier guards could not be advised in time that the racing balloons might cross the Soviet border and should be permitted to go over unchallenged.


Polish Entry Reported in Lake


HELSINGFORS, Finland, September 24 (AP).  Reports reaching here this evening said one of the Polish balloons entered in the Gordon Bennett cup race burst and fell into a lake near Nyslott, Finland. The pilots swam to safety and were given assistance by residents of the region, the reports said. -


5 Balloons Unreported; Polish Entry Is in Lead - Seven Land in Russia in flight from Warsaw - MOSCOW, September 25 [Tuesday] (AP)


Five balloons participating in the twenty-second annual Gordon Bennett Cup Race that started at Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, still had not been reported tonight.

Aviation circles expressed the opinion that some of them, swept along by northwesterly winds, might have been carried into the Karelia area north of Leningrad.

Seven of the sixteen competing balloons landed on Russian soil, two came down in Estonia, another was grounded in Lithuania, and the eleventh landed 185 miles northeast of Helsingfors, Finland on Finnish territory.

Definitely identified as having landed in Russia were: [list]

The result of the race remained undecided.


Poland Wins the Cup for the Second Year in Succession Flight (a British publication) October 4, 1934


The first balloon to land was the Bratislava, of Czechoslovakia, which descended the same evening near Kybartai, in Lithuania, while two German balloons landed next morning in Estonia and the American Balloon Buffalo landed in Russia on Lake Chudskya, near Godoff.

Captain Hynek, with Lieutenant Pomaski, in the Polish balloon Kosciuszko landed in Finland, 807 miles from Warsaw, and was announced as the winner. Second place went to Polonia, also a Polish balloon, which landed at Savonlianna, Finland, 795 miles from Warsaw, while third place also went to a Polish balloon, the Warszawa. As reported last week, the Polonia ripped its envelope above a Finnish lake, into which it fell, the pilots having to swim for their lives.

The Belgian balloon, Belgica, was placed fourth, and the second Belgian entry, Bruxelles, landed at Witebsk, in Russia.


It may be of interest to note that the Polish balloons employed a new method of impregnating the fabric of the envelope which has been introduced by Polish manufacturers.


[This is the first use of (UP). Up to now, it was the Associated Press (AP), founded to deal with situations like this.]



[NYHT Tuesday, October 2, 1934

On July 28, 1934 a huge stratospheric balloon rose to a height of 60,613 feet and landed with its three occupants, Major William E.Kepner, Captain A.W. Stevens, and Captain O.A. Andersen, United States Army Corps, in a Nebraska cornfield. It was the largest balloon built at that time, with a capacity of 111,100 cubic yards.]