Chapter 3 - 1908
Score of Balloons in First of International Races, Berlin Prepares for Thousands at Big Coupe Event
Sunday, October 11, 1908
WORLD INTEREST IN BALLOON CONTEST - Greater interest than ever before shown in any aeronautic event is being manifested in the third international balloon contest, to take place in Berlin, Germany, today. Eight of the foremost nations of the world are to compete in the main event, and in the various minor events before and after the international contest no fewer than eighty-six large balloons will take part.
The general enthusiasm that has been aroused throughout Europe in aerial activities during the last year has stimulated a keen appetite for everything that concerns air navigation, and it is expected that the Berlin races will be the most notable sporting event witnessed on the Continent for many years.
For months preparations have been in progress for entertaining the crowd that will flock to the German capital from all parts of the world. Grand stands and ground space have been arranged for at least a quarter of a million spectators, and scores of restaurants and refreshment booths have been erected near the grounds.
IMPERIAL INTEREST SHOWN
The Emperor and the Crown Prince of Germany have taken great interest in the contest, and a special enclosure has been prepared for the imperial guests and their friends. Not alone in Germany does this interest exist, but each country which is to participate is preparing to send a large contingent of enthusiastic supporters, and large sums of money are being waged on the results.
[One of the rare mentions of gambling connected with the races.]
As a matter of news the balloon races are rated as something of great international moment, and extensive arrangements have been made by the German government for the sending of complete telegraphic reports from the grounds as the events progress.
The principal contest, that for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, is a race for distance and will be conducted under the rules of the International Aeronautic Federation. The cup is now held by Germany, having been won by Herr Oscar Erbsloh at the St. Louis race last October.
Prior to the international race there will be contests for endurance, for altitude and for skill in landing. Besides these, which are open only to spherical balloons, there will be contests and exhibitions for dirigibles and other types of lighter than air craft.
EIGHT COUNTRIES ENTERED
Because of the keen interest taken in the event and the determination of the International Aeronautic Federation to live up to all the rules strictly, there has been considerable delay in the official announcement of the details of the race. So far as these announcements have been made, eight countries will participate, seven of these entering three balloons each and one country (Switzerland) two balloons.
Those that will enter three balloons are America, England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium. All of the balloons entered by these countries are of the large type, having a gas capacity of 2,200 cubic meters, except the Belgian balloons, which will have only 1,800 cubic meters capacity. Twenty-three of these huge monsters of the air will be sent away from the ascension grounds today, and the one that lands the greatest distance from Berlin will be declared the winner.
Each balloon will carry two men, a pilot and his companion, and once in the air their progress will depend very largely upon their skill in finding the air currents that will carry them the greatest distance from the starting point. Each aeronaut is provided with cards to be filled out and dropped to earth at regular intervals, telling the altitude; location, so far as may be known; the direction of the balloon's course and such other information about the progress of the flight as may be possible. On these cards are printed directions to the finder to send the information from the nearest telegraph station to the aeronautic headquarters in Berlin. These directions are printed in several languages. The aeronauts are also provided with government documents calculated to insure their friendly treatment by the natives no matter where they may land. This is regarded as necessary, because some of the balloons are likely to soar many hundreds of miles from Berlin and come down in a country where international balloon races are never heard of.
THE AMERICAN TEAM
The American aeronauts who will strive to win back the cup are already in Berlin making preparations for the contest. They are Mr. J C McCoy, of New York, who participated in the St. Louis races last fall; Mr. N. H. Arnold of North Adams, Mass.; and Mr. A. Holland Forbes, of New York. Other American aeronauts will act as their companions. Mr. Arnold will use the balloon St. Louis, Mr. Forbes will use the Conqueror and Mr. McCoy will use the America II.
The companions for the pilots of the American team have not been officially announced, but it is likely that Mr. Augustus Post, secretary of the Aero Club of America, will accompany Mr. Forbes and Mr. Harry J. Hewat will be in the balloon with Mr. Arnold. Probably some one of the several American aeronauts now in Berlin will accompany Mr. McCoy.
The only American made balloon in the race will be the Conqueror, owned and piloted by A. Holland Forbes. The America II, in which Mr. J C McCoy will try to win honors for the United States, is a French balloon, and so is the St. Louis, which has been turned over to Mr. N. H. Arnold by the St. Louis Aero Club.
Most of the other balloons will be of French or German manufacture. Some of the contestants from England, France and Germany are the same as those who competed in the St. Louis race a year ago.
RACING BALLOONS DESCRIBE CIRCLE NEAR NORTH SEA - Contestants in the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes in Long Flight Without Result. - FALL 6,000 FEET, ESCAPING UNHURT - Occupants of Spanish Craft Descend Safely When Envelope Tears Open. - AMERICANS RECOVER - Messrs. Forbes and Post Suffer No Ill Results from Four Thousand Foot Drop of The Conqueror. -[Barely an hour after takeoff, these two American aeronauts fell out of the sky.]
100,000 SPECTATORS GASP IN HORROR - Dropping Gas Bag Forms a Sort of Parachute and Checks the Descent. - LANDS ON ROOF OF HOUSE - Twenty-three Entries from Eight Different Nations Try for Trophy at Berlin. - BERLIN, Sunday.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators to-day witnessed at the Schmargendorf Sports Park the start of the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes. They were greatly shocked to see the American balloon Conqueror burst and rapidly fall. Happily both the occupants were unhurt.
The Conqueror, having as pilot Mr. A. Holland Forbes, assisted by Mr. Augustus Post, started ninth in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, the departure taking place exactly at half-past three o'clock. The French balloon Le Condor started three minutes before the German balloon the Berlin, steered by Herr Erbsloh.
Four minutes later the Conqueror made a bad start, the basket hitting a strong fence built to keep the people back, causing her to sway very badly. At exactly twenty minutes to four the spectators were watching the still swinging progress of the American balloon when suddenly they saw what looked like a streak of lightning just below the word "Conqueror," the light coming through.
Balloon Forms Parachute
In a moment all eyes were turned toward the balloon. Women screamed and all expected a tragedy as they saw the split open larger and larger. The balloon opened out as though with wings. For a few moments there was terrible suspense. Then the balloon cloth was seen to form a parachute, and it was evident that the lives of the two men were saved.
When I returned to the city I found that Forbes had returned to the Hotel Adlon. He was unhurt except for a bad shaking up and was in excellent spirits.
He made me a drawing of how he landed and described the fall by saying:
"We were four thousand feet up at the time and about two miles from the start. Suddenly I heard Mr. Post say, 'It has come.' There was a hissing rush of gas and the balloon burst in the lower part. With a big knife I at once started cutting off the bags of sand.
"There were, including those inside the car, thirty-nine. They went as they were. We had no time to empty them. How or upon what they fell I do not know. One I distinctly saw fall through a baby carriage. Luckily the baby was absent. Mr. Post and I got rid of them with the utmost rapidity.
"There was a house at No. 7 Wilhelmshofstrasse, in Friedenau, built around three sides of a court. We just cleared the first roof and the basket hit the corner of the second, making a six-foot hole and knocking the chimney down.
"We crawled over the roof and very soon the police and the fire brigade arrived. They treated me splendidly. They took charge of my balloon and everything. Lieutenant von Esmarch, sent by the Aero Club, took me home by automobile.
"Until to-day I did not know I had so many friends. The crowd treated me as though I had done something heroic and wonderful. It all merely shows the absolute safety of balloons.
"When we saw the collision with the house was inevitable, Mr. Post and I hung to the ring and thus saved ourselves.
"I could cry with vexation, said Mr. Forbes later, "after coming so far to take part in the race and then be knocked out by such an accident. I cannot say now what was the cause of the catastrophe, which I will investigate tomorrow. It was our good fortune to be up so high; otherwise the balloon could not have formed itself into a parachute. We owe our deliverance to that occurrence. A remarkable thing was that several bottles of water remained intact, everything else being destroyed.
"Mr. Forbes was asked whether the length of the appendix had anything to do with the accident, and to this he replied: - "I do not know, but if so I have gained some experience. The appendix was made long so as to be more fitted for night traveling. I cut off ten feet of the appendix before our departure to-day, but the end was still half way down outside the basket. I will be able to tell to-morrow wherein the trouble lay."
[SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE HERALD VIA COMMERCIAL CABLE COMPANY'S SYSTEM]
Berlin, Monday (October 12, 1907)–
The balloons engaged in the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes are widely scattered. Those aeronauts who, when they started, took advantage of the low aerial currents appear to have been taken in circles, whereas those who ascended higher and took an eastern course are likely to do much better.
The Condor, With M. Jacques Faure as pilot, at four o'clock this afternoon was over Luneburg. At seven o'clock the French Balloon was seen at Hamburg, and the occupants dropped a message that they were weary after twenty-four hours' journey and had still 500 kilos of ballast.
The Condor was then going north toward Kiel, and at present it seems certain that it leads.
A dispatch received at half-past ten o'clock says that the Spanish balloon, the Montanes, when at an altitude of 2,000 meters burst and fell near Mintzen. The occupants were unhurt.
At four o'clock the first news was received from the America II, Mr. James C McCoy, pilot. It was then at Herzubin, 100 kilometers south of Berlin, and was going badly.
General Allen, Mr. L. D. Dozier, president of the Aero Club of St. Louis, Mr. A Holland Forbes, Mr. Augustus Post and other aeronauts went to attend the performance of "Sardanapalus" at the Royal Opera House to-night, where they will be presented to the Kaiser who expressed a special wish to meet the American aeronauts.
British Balloon, Traveling 272 [miles in lead] for International Cup; America. Two of the Aeronauts from This Country Meet with Disaster. - THE ST LOUIS FALLS INTO NORTH SEA - Messrs. Arnold and Hewitt Have Narrow Escape, Being Picked Up by Pilot Schooner. - AWAIT REPORTS OF THREE - German, Swiss, and Spanish Competitors are Still to Be Heard From to Decide Winner. - [special dispatch hcccs] Berlin, Tuesday (October 13, 1907) –
Up to eight o'clock this evening the British balloon the Banshee had made the longest flight in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, which started here on Sunday. The Banshee made a flight of 435 kilometers. The progress of the other balloons is as follows, showing point of landing and distance traveled: -
Where Balloons Fell.
The Banshee (British) at Hvidding, Schleswigh-Holstein, 435 Kilometers.
The Belgica (Belgian), near same place; 423 kilometers.
The Condor (French), at Tondern; 400 kilometers.
The St Louis (American), in the North Sea; 384 kilometers.
Ile de France (French), at Garding;365 kilometers.
The Brise d'Automne (French), at same place.
The Aetos (Italian), 355 kilometers.
The Utopie (Belgium) at Cuxhaven; 350 kilometers.
The Cognac (Swiss), near Cappel Neufeld; 352 kilometers.
The Dusseldorf (German), with Herr Erbsloh, last year's winner, landed near Cuxhaven; 340 kilometers.
The Brittania (British), near Bremen; 312 kilometers.
The Ruwenzori (Italian), 300 kilometers.
Mr. McCoy, in the America II, had very hard luck. He landed in Mechlenburg, 200 kilometers from Berlin, having made an extremely circuitous course.
[Mr. McCoy took with him a Swedish military officer, who read the maps. According to Mr. Mix (see next year’s story), this officer told McCoy that they were coming up on the North Sea, when in fact it was the Baltic. Their direction was such that they could easily have crossed a part of the Baltic and made more distance. The North Sea is altogether a different concern, and depending on the direction you are going, may or may not take you to a landfall.]
Three Not Heard From
At a late hour to-night three out of the twenty-three balloons which started on Sunday have not been heard of. Indeed there has been no communication from them since they ascended. These three balloons are the German balloon Busley, with Dr. Niemayer as pilot, the Spanish balloon Castilla, with Senor Montojo as pilot, and the Swiss balloon, Helvetia, with Herr Schaeck as pilot. They all are first class balloons, with experienced pilots, who are as keen as can be upon winning the coveted international trophy.
When I asked Senor Montojo and his companion, Senor Romero, before the start what they would do if they came to the Baltic, they replied: - "That will not stop us. The crossing has been done before and we will do it again. If a balloonist has not any courage he is not worthy of the name."
It therefore is possible that the second balloon, which was seen drifting toward the North Sea, was the Castilla.
AERONAUTS PICKED UP BY STEAMSHIP - [SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE HERALD VIA COMMERCIAL CABLE COMPANY'S SYSTEM.] Berlin, Tuesday (October 13, 1907) –
The American aeronauts are making all the sensations in the race for the international trophy. A report arrived about eleven o'clock to-day which says that not only had the balloon St. Louis fallen into the sea near Heligoland, but that the occupants, Messrs. Arnold and Hewitt, had been drowned.
Mr. J Hamilton Forbes, who himself had such a sensational fall from the Conqueror, at once declared the news could hardly be correct, as according to his calculations the St. Louis could not have reached Heligoland by the hour mentioned in the dispatch. Shortly afterward a further telegram was received from Heligoland confirming the fact that the balloon had fallen into the sea, but adding the welcome news that the aeronauts had been saved, having been picked up by a pilot schooner, the Langerwog.
That Messrs. Arnold and Hewitt were saved was marvelous as the accident occurred at midnight and there was a fog at the time. The pilot schooner was on her way from Jade and was on the lookout for incoming vessels, but had also, like all ships along the coast, been warned to keep a lookout for the balloons. A third telegram added that the balloon burst over the North Sea and was lost. Mr. Arnold had been particularly annoyed at having to start without the floaters which he had arranged to fit to the car of his balloon. These had been consigned by the maker to M. de Moor, owner of the Belgica, who is ill, and the custom house authorities declined to deliver them to any one else. Urgent appeals were made by influential people, but this excess of red tapeism could not be overcome. Mr. Arnold thus was forced to leave without his floaters.
Both the other American balloons were provided with them. That they are absolutely necessary in a race like this events only too clearly proved. Mr. Arnold had tried to make up for their absence by fitting cork to the sides of his car.
I just have had a conversation with Lieutenant Herrera, whose balloon, the Montanes, burst yesterday above the town of Metzendorf. The aeronauts fell a distance of two thousand meters. Lieutenant Herrera does not disguise the fact that the first sensation of falling from this great height is awful. As in the case of the accident to Mr. Forbes, the gasbag formed a parachute. By throwing everything over the side and then hanging on to the ring, he and his companion were able to minimize the shock and so save their lives.
AERONAUT DESCRIBES FALL INTO SEA - Mr. Arnold, of the St Louis, Tells How He and Companion Were Rescued by Pilot Schooner. [SPECIAL DESPATCH TO THE HERALD VIA COMMERCIAL CABLE COMPANY'S SYSTEM.] Hamburg, Tuesday. - Messrs. Arnold and Hewitt, who formed the crew of the balloon St. Louis, engaged in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, have been picked up in the North Sea. They were rescued by a Wilhelmshaven pilot schooner, the Langerwog, and were landed at that port. They are stopping at the Hotel Loheyde. After a good night's rest Mr. Arnold will tomorrow proceed to Berlin, while Mr. Hewitt will go to Scotland. I had a telephone conversation with Mr. Arnold this evening regarding his experiences. Mr. Arnold said: -
"Throughout yesterday we were in a fog and only caught a glimpse of land beneath us between one and four PM. We repeatedly reduced the altitude of the balloon so as to endeavor to make out our whereabouts, but after darkness set in, though we saw the lights of several towns, we could not determine our whereabouts. In fact, we had not the slightest idea as to where we were until suddenly we noticed a lighthouse and lights on buoys marking a channel evidently leading out to sea.
"This convinced us we were either over the North Sea or the Baltic, and to avoid being blown out to sea, away from the shipping routes, we decided to discontinue the voyage and attempt to descent. We put life preservers on and the car soon touched the sea. For three-quarters of an hour we dragged through the waves at considerable speed. Suddenly, while a light from a lighthouse dashed upon us, we discovered a boat, which was steering toward us.
"As, however, our speed was considerable - we were told afterward it was twenty miles an hour - the schooner could not reach us. Those on board eventually made signs for us to jump from the balloon, and this we finally did. We were then both picked up within ten minutes, and subsequently were landed at Wilhelmshaven. To our great regret, we could not save the balloon.
"I did my best, and attempted to rip it, but the ropes slid out of my hands. The pilot schooner's crew which saved us told us they saw another balloon go out over the North Sea in the same direction we were following.
"Unless one of the vessels of the German navy which have been sent out to search for Aeronauts picked up its occupants, I fear they will be lost."
Later - A Grimsby trawler has picked up in the North Sea the derelict balloon St. Louis.
THE BANSHEE LANDS AFTER LONG FLIGHT - [Special Dispatch HCCCS] Copenhagen, Tuesday. –
The British balloon Banshee descended this morning at seven minutes past four near the village of Hvidding, on the German-Danish frontier, the balloon landing just seventy-five meters inside German territory. The Banshee was drifting very low and had plenty of ballast, but the wind suddenly veered to the west, threatening to carry the aeronauts out to sea. Mr Dunville thereupon decided to end the trip, and made an uneventful landing, the anchor catching the side of a ditch. With the help of some villagers, Mr. Dunville and Mr. Pollock, his assistant, packed up the balloon and having breakfasted at an inn in Hvidding, left at half-past nine this morning for London, via Hamburg. -
HAS MADE MANY TRIPS - North Adams, Mass, Tuesday. –
A cablegram was received in this city this afternoon by relatives of Mr. Harry J Hewitt, who accompanied Mr. Arnold of this city, in his balloon ascent from Berlin. Mr. Hewitt simply sent this message: -
"Rescued at sea."
Mr. Arnold who is a local newspaperman, became interested in aeronautics last year and made his first ascension on September 1, 1908? He has made seventeen flights in this country and became a qualified balloon pilot in July last. He was active in the North Adams Aero Club, of which he is secretary. He was the first in the county to own a balloon and maintain it. When Lieutenant Frank P Lahm learned that he could not go, Mr. Arnold was chosen as his substitute.
[Main headline] - TWO MORE FALL IN SEA - Senores Montojo and Romero Drop with the Castilla Into the Ocean and Are Picked Up. - THE BUSLEY THOUGHT SAFE - Dispatch from Norwegian Point Chronicles, It is Believed, Descent of German Competitors. - [SDHCCCS] Berlin, Wednesday (October 14, 1907) –
About eight o'clock this evening the welcome news reached Berlin that the Swiss balloon, the Helvetia, had landed at five o'clock this evening in Norway.
A dispatch signed by Colonel Schaeck stated that the Helvetia landed safely and in good order at a place called Boer-ghetz, forty kilometers north of Molde, which means that the aeronauts have accomplished a journey of at least 1,250 kilometers from Berlin.
Captain Kindelan, Signor Salvatore and other aeronauts at the Hotel Bristol expressed astonishment and admiration at this apparently stupendous feat, which would seen to show that Colonel Schaeck and his assistant, Herr Messmer, have beaten the record for remaining in the air, hitherto held by M. Leblanc, who remained in the air forty-four hours in the St. Louis race. Herr Schaeck apparently has remained up more than seventy hours, thus beating all existing records by over twenty-four hours. -
A second dispatch, which was received in Berlin this evening, dated Molde, announces that a balloon had been brought ashore at Ersholmen, south of Molde. The occupants when saved were in dire distress. They will sleep to-night in the fishing village where they landed.
Believe Other Balloon Landed.
It is not quite clear which balloon the telegram refers to, but it is presumed to be the German balloon Busley, of which Herr Niemayer is pilot. If this be the case, all the balloons engaged in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes have been accounted for.
Mr. Arnold in Berlin
At one o'clock this afternoon a strangely clad figure emerged from a drosky in front of the Hotel Adlon. It was Mr. Arnold, who had just arrived from Hamburg. He was warmly greeted and received congratulations from numerous friends upon his lucky escape.
He was wearing a gray flannel shirt and green colored clothes of wonderful make, which had as many wrinkles as an old boot. He was wearing a new pair of ready-made shoes, and a curious tall crowned, broad brimmed sugarloaf hat.
"How do you feel?" one group asked.
"How would you feel, replied the nonchalant American, "if, like myself, you had only slept five hours in the last few days? If I have any special feeling it is that of being awfully hungry."
"You probably want a wash," suggested another.
"Wash?" replied Mr. Arnold. "If you knew the amount of washing I had in the North Sea you wouldn't suggest washing."
"You swim?" ventured another well-wisher.
"Not a bit. I cannot swim a stroke, but before we abandoned the St. Louis I put on a big cork life belt. That kept me up."
"Mr. Hewitt and myself," he continued, "were forty-five minutes trailing in the water. Mr. Hewitt was in the rigging and I in the basket. The cord for ripping the balloon would not work so we were pulled through the water at a great rate. The sailors in the pilot boat yelled to us in French and German but we could not understand. Finally one in good English roared, "Jump into the sea."
It was evident the vessel could not keep up with us. Mr. Hewitt jumped first and was picked up. Eight minutes later, when I jumped, I did so holding the rope which should have ripped the balloon, my idea being that the force of the jump certainly would complete the job, and thus I might save the St. Louis. Instead, it merely pulled me along at such a rate that my head was under water most of the time. When I felt I was nearly drowned I let go and was picked up, after having been in the rough sea twelve minutes. The reason we drifted to the sea was the fog. When it cleared we found out where we were.
Mr. Hewitt said to me, "Would you rather go down and take a chance of being saved or do you prefer to go further to almost sure death?" I replied, "I agree with whatever you decide, and as the gas supply was giving out we decided it was best to descend..
Fall Into the Unknown
"I opened the valve and we went tumbling down, without the least idea which particular sea or ocean we were falling into. Mr. Hewitt's hand was badly cut, by the anchor rope, which got twisted round it and nearly severed it. Luckily he was able to cut his hand free with a knife. He has gone to Scotland and I myself am proceeding to London."
The Spaniards, together with the American pilots, are providing the sensations in connection with this year's race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes. Yesterday I telegraphed you, concerning the thrilling descent made by Lieutenant Herrera and Senor Sotolongo, when the balloon Montanes burst at an altitude of 6,000 feet and descended at a vertiginous pace. This morning a further sensation was provided by the news that another Spanish balloon, the Castilla, with Senor Montojo as pilot and Senor Romero de Tejada as his assistant, also descended to the North Sea, but the two occupants of the balloon had been saved.
Senor Gorbena, who was waiting for news of his friends, had become intensely anxious and was greatly relieved by a telegram which stated that the balloon had fallen into the sea northwest of Heligoland, but that the aeronauts had been picked up by the fishing boat Maria.
The rescue was made at eight o'clock Tuesday morning. It seems that after touching Cuxhaven the aeronauts proceeded on a fishing smack to Hamburg, the supposition being that, as they had lost their money, they were unable to take the train. According to a private telegram the two aeronauts reached Hamburg this evening, and had therefore been thirty hours on the vessel, which must have been a novel experience to two young men who are accustomed to a rather more luxurious style of living. -
AERONAUTS SAVED AS THEY BID EACH OTHER FAREWELL - Are Taken by Boat's Crew from Deflated Balloon in the North Sea. - CLING TO SINKING BAG FOR 90 MINUTES - Had Dropped in Rear of Steamer, Which Chased Them as Wind Carried Them Away. - RESULT OF RACE IN DOUBT - British Banshee Believed to Have Won, but Cup May be Awarded to the Swiss Helvetia. [sdhcccs] London, Thursday (October 15, 1907) –
Grave fears which were entertained as to the fate of Dr. Niemeyer and Herr Heidemann, who left Berlin on Sunday in the German balloon Busley, and had not been heard of for ninety-six hours, were set at rest to-day when news was received from Edinburgh that the aeronauts had been picked up by a collier in the North Sea, about ten miles southwest of Heligoland.
After a fight for life of an hour and a half, clinging half way up the side of their slowly collapsing balloon, which was being driven along on top of the water by a stiff wind. Herr Niemeyer and Herr Heidemann, in an almost naked condition, had just shaken hands and bidden each other what they thought was a last goodbye, when a lifeboat from the collier pulled alongside and hauled them in.
Clothed by Collier's Crew
This evening the two aeronauts reached London on their way home to Berlin. They presented an almost grotesque appearance when they arrived at the Savoy Hotel. They lost practically all their clothing with the exception of their trousers and socks, in the North Sea, and outfits were given to them by the captain and crew of the collier. Herr Niemeyer was wearing an old Norfolk jacket, a cap and white canvas shoes, while Herr Heidemann had on a white woollen sweater several sizes too small for his generous proportions. Both were cheerful in spite of their trying experiences.
To the HERALD correspondent Herr Heidemann gave a graphic account of their thrilling adventures: -
"We left Schmangendorf Sport Park at thirteen minutes past three on Sunday afternoon in the race for the Coupe Internationale," said Herr Heidemann. "Herr Niemeyer was in charge. The wind was blowing steadily from the northwest, and we took Russian money with us, feeling sure we would land somewhere in Southern Russia. So sure were we that we would never go near the sea that we soon got rid of our life belts and the corks around the basket.
"However, after we had been in the air about ten hours and were sailing over Silesia, the wind veered around, taking us westward into Bohemia. Next it changed to the Southeast and we entered Saxony. The wind kept blowing steadily then, and when we saw the light of Cuxhaven, about six miles on our right, we decided not to descend but to make an attempt to reach England.
Blown North by Stiff Wind
"We left land about half -past twelve o'clock in the morning, on Monday, confident of reaching some part of the British Isles. However, after we had left Heligoland, which is some thirty miles from the German coast, a stiff south wind developed and the compass showed us that we were heading due north. Realizing our danger we decided to come down and attempt to signal a steamer.
"We sighted several vessels, but though I signalled frantically with an electric light, while Niemeyer blew loud blasts on a torpedo horn, we were not seen for some time. When about ten miles southwest of Heligoland, and after we had been half in the water for an hour, we were aware we had been seen by a small steamer ahead, which later proved to be the German collier Prinz Wilhelm, bound for Leith.
"We opened the valve and landed full in the water behind the steamer. We threw eighty sacks of sand overboard. The Prinz Wilhelm turned aroung and made for us. but the wind commenced to blow at the rate of thirty miles an hour and we were carried past the steamer. We then divested ourselves of everything but trousers and socks, Niemeyer even throwing away two hundred roubles, expecting that we should finally have to make a swim for it.
Climbed Up the Balloon.
"We then pulled open the ripper and climbed up on the top half of the deflated balloon and waited to be rescued. The balloon was every minute getting smaller and smaller, and the men on the steamer could not see us. At the same time we were being carried swiftly along the top of the water away from the Prinz Wilhelm. Our weight of course caused us to sink into the balloon and after a time we commenced to slip down one side.
"Half under water, cold and thoroughly exhausted, we finally gave ourselves up for lost. We had just grasped each other by the hand, as we thought for the last time, when we heard welcome voices from the other side of the balloon. We were saved!
The Prinz Wilhelm had put off a lifeboat and our struggle was over. The time was then five o'clock Tuesday morning. We had been in the water over an hour after we had been seen by the Prinz Wilhelm. Too tired to help ourselves we were hauled into the lifeboat and finally got to the Prinz Wilhelm, where Captain Schacht and the crew, many of whom were English, did everything to make us comfortable. Food and warm clothing were given to us and we were put to bed. Captain Schacht then set out to get the balloon aboard, an undertaking which took him nearly three hours.
Could Have Remained Hours in Air
At the time we came down we could have remained in the air for another eight to twelve hours, and would have done so had not the wind changed. In all we sailed, I should think, about four hundred and thirty miles."
[We would like to have this article in German]
Herren Niemeyer and Heidemann left London this evening for Berlin. Their balloon is now in Edinburgh and will be sent to Germany in a few days. Herr Heidemann was one of the competitors in the balloon race from St Louis last year. He has made fifty-five ascents, while Herr Niemeyer has made forty-two trips in the air.
[next entry injected here -spanish story came next in paper.]
international race on Sunday and have not been heard from. Meteorological observations indicate that they were driven out over the North Sea.
An exhaustive search is being conducted by the German Admiralty with the surveying ship Zieten, fourteen torpedo boats and a fleet of twenty fishing smacks. One division is steaming in radiating lives from Heligoland to the English coast, a second is cruising along the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein and a third is patrolling the North Frisian and Dutch coasts.
Three British Cruisers Ordered to Take Part in the Search. London, Friday Three cruisers of the home fleet, which are now at Queensberry, Scotland, have been ordered to search the North Sea for the two missing balloons that sailed away from Berlin last Monday in the endurance contest.
SPANISH BALLOONISTS TELL OF EXCITING TRIP
[SDHCCCS] Berlin, Thursday (October 15, 1907)–
Senor Montojo and his companion Senor Romero de Tejada, pilots of the Spanish balloon Castilla, who were picked up in the North Sea yesterday, arrived in Berlin this morning. They were clad in strange garments, for they had lost all their clothing in their dash for life. When asked to relate their experiences, Senor Montojo said: -
Our experience included two days in a balloon, three hours in the North Sea, two days in a fishing smack, one night in a hotel and one hour's sleep since we left Berlin. My unfortunate companion, Romero was very ill. He suffered terribly from cold and exposure, as he has a delicate constitution and the North Sea is cold.
"We failed to win the cup, but did our best. When we saw the sea we went straight ahead, though we had only eight bags of ballast left. We were determined to make an attempt to cross. It was no doubt that fog and damp so compressed the gas that the balloon descended. We soon came to bump up against the angry sea and were very soon in it. My bad accident at Barcelona in the balloon Quo Vadis and now this one within a period of six months tells me I had better give up ballooning.
Tejada Prefers Baccarat.
Senor Romero de Tejada, Montojo's companion who is a very slightly built young man, took up the story. He said: -
"Most decidedly. I prefer baccarat to ballooning. At baccarat you have a fair chance. You either win or get some fun for your money. Here am I. I lost my hat, my clothes - in fact, everything I then passed three hours in horribly cold water. How seasick I was!
How I lost my money was curious. Montojo told me nothing could save us falling into that terribly agitated sea. I put five thousand francs I had with me into my basque cap, which I usually wear when ballooning. When the water so I threw my cap into the sea, forgetting in my excitement the 5,000 francs I had put in it.
At last, after what seemed like an eternity, we were rescued by the fishing boat Marie, The menu on board was meager. It consisted of one dish of a sort of soup in which there were onions, potatoes and fish. For beverages we had cold tea and coffee. As we were awfully hungry the food tasted wonderfully good. Between whiles I was very seasick."
Police Commissary Rude.
Senor Montojo took up the conversation again. He said: -
They had neither cigarettes nor cigars on board, but the sailors, who were all kindness, supplied us with rough pipes and tobacco. As there was no Spanish Consul in Cuxhaven we hired a tug to tow us to Hamburg. There also we could not find a consul but did find a Commissary of Police, whose rudeness was quite excessive. Far from aiding us in any way, he so far himself as to push us out of his office. Of course, our appearance was not so attractive, but that Commissary of Police might have been polite to us under the circumstances, as we were strangers in his country."
[We would like to have the above article in Spanish]
Mr McCoy, pilot of the balloon America, held a breakfast at the Hotel Adlon to-day for the Spanish pilots and their friends. Those present included Senor Montojo, Senor Tejada, Marques de Salterra, Senor Alfonso Gorbena. This evening the Spanish aeronauts are entertaining numerous friends at dinner at the Hotel Bristol. -
BRITISH BANSHEE PROBABLY WINNER - [SDHCCCS] Berlin, Thursday –
The Aero Club for the present declines to make any official comment in regard to the probable winner of the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, preferring to wait for the return of Colonel Schaeck, in order that he may give the details of his wonderful journey in the Helvetia, which lasted seventy-four hours, the distance traveled being 1,260 kilometers.
Arrival of the Helvetia Reported from Christiansund. [SDHCCCS] Christiansund, Thursday. –
The Swiss balloon Helvetia, with Colonel Schaeck and Lieutenant Messner on board, which ascended from Berlin on Sunday, reached here yesterday evening from sea, safe and sound. -
German Aeronauts Rescued; Result of Race in Doubt - [Thursday?] There seems to be little doubt that the British balloon, the Banshee, will be declared the winner; the Belgian balloon Belgica second, and the French balloon Condor II, third.
Colonel Schaeck will, it is understood, claim the victory upon the ground that, although the balloon was towed for two hours, he and his companion finally landed, each not having left the basket. The claim will be overruled.
Doubt as to the admissibility of Colonel Schaeck's journey has arisen through a telegram which has been received from the Colonel, as follows: - CHRISTIANSUND. - Landed all right five o'clock, October 14, Boerghetz after two hours tow. Everything in order. "SCHAECK"
Aeronauts such as Messrs. Abercron, McCoy, Arnold, Montojo and others who were seen today point out that a good deal depends on the meaning of the word, "tow." If it means that the guide rope was allowed to tow along the land for two hours before descending to land, it would be a quite legitimate action, but if it means that the balloon was towed back to land by a boat, or in fact was towed in any way by a boat, then the Helvetia must be disqualified.
Whatever the fact as to this may be, Colonel Schaeck is admitted by all to have accomplished a great performance. Not only has he traveled 1,250 kilometres, but he has remained in the air seventy-four hours, thus beating all existing records by over twenty-four hours. -
BEATS ALL RECORDS FOR LONG FLIGHT – M. Le Blanc, in International Race in St. Louis Last Year, Remained in Air Forty-Four Hours. –
Since John Wise, in July 1859, sailed in a balloon from St. Louis to Adams, near Sackett's Harbor, Jefferson County, N.Y., a distance of eight hundred miles, in eighteen hours, there have been many remarkable balloon voyages, both in this and other countries, but in none of them has the aeronaut remained in the air so long as Herr Schaeck in the Helvetia.
M. Alfred Le Blanc, who sailed the Isle de France from St. Louis in the race for the International Cup last year, has a record of having remained aloft for forty-four hours and three minutes. Comte de La Vaulx, the hero of several extended flights, broke all European records when, in October 1900, he traveled in his balloon, the Centaur, from Paris to a point beyond Kieff, in Russia, a distance of 2,100 kilometers, but he was in the air only thirty-six hours and forty-five minutes. M. Jacques Balsan, whose flight was made at the same time as that of the Count, landed at Opochlea, at a distance of 2,000 kilometers from Paris, his starting point.
Lieutenant Frank P Lahm, in the competition for the International trophy in 1906, left Paris September 30, and, crossing the English Channel, landed at Fylingdales, England, on October 1. He had traveled 648 kilometers. Captain Charles De F. Chandler in a flight made from St. Louis October 17, 1907, and terminating at Walton, Roane county, W. Va. was in the air twenty hours and fifteen minutes. His distance was 473.56 miles. Captain Chandler now holds the Lahm Cup, offered by the Aero Club of America for contests of distance in the United Stated, given to commemorate the victory of the club's representative, Lieutenant Lahm, in the first contest for the Coupe Internationale in 1906.
In the contest in which Lieutenant Lahm won the cup for distance, Mr. C.S. Rolls, of England, won first place for duration of flight. He was in the air for twenty-six hours and sixteen minutes. This record, made two years ago, is in striking contrast with that made by Mr. Herbert Simmons, who, in June 1882, crossed from Malden, Essex, to Arras, France a distance of 140 miles, in five hours and twenty minutes.
The interest aroused in 1882, when Mr. Simmons crossed the channel, was exceeded in 1898 when Comte de Castillo de St. Victor sailed from Paris to Vesteveck, in Sweden, a distance of 1,400 kilometers.
In this country no distance flight has equaled that of Mr. Oscar Erbsloh, who representing the Deutscher Luftschiffer Verbund, sailed from Forest Park, St. Louis to Bradley Beach N.J., a distance of 872 miles. Mr. Alfred Le Blanc in that contest, landing at Herbertsville, N.J. a distance of 866 miles from St Louis, remained in the air forty-four hours and three minutes. Mr. Erbsloh had been in the air forty hours exactly. Herr Hugo von Abercorn?, in the balloon Dusseldorf, landed near Dover, Del., thirty-nine hours and fifty minutes after leaving St Louis, and Captain Chandler, who was with Mr. J.C. McCoy, in the balloon America, was in the air thirty-eight hours and thirty minutes when he landed at Pawtuxent, Arundel county, Va. -
THE HELVETIA WINS SANTOS-DUMONT PRIZE - [SDHCCCS] Paris, Thursday –
Contradictory reports regarding the landing place of the Swiss balloon, Helvetia, gave rise to interesting discussions at the Aero Club de France to-day. It is recognized that in holding the air for seventy-four hours or more Colonel Schaeck placed himself in the very front rank. M Alfred Leblanc's previous record of forty-four hours seems quite small in comparison.
By this feat, Colonel Schaeck becomes entitled to the prize offered by Santos-Dumont to the first aeronaut who succeeds in remaining in the air more than forty-eight hours.
If the cup goes to England the English club will ask permission to hold the contest in Paris on account of the bad geographical position of the British Isles.
"Switzerland would be the best starting place imaginable," said M. Georges Besancon. "Any of the great Swiss resorts could organize a fete which would attract people from all over the world. The start of the balloons from Lucerne would be thrilling. It would prove a spectacle unparalleled in the history of the sport."
FRENCH EXPERTS BLAME AERONAUTS - [sdhvcccs] Paris Tuesday (October 13, 1907. - The bursting of a free spherical balloon in midair is not a frequent occurrence, and considerable surprise has been caused by the fact that two balloons suffered this fate in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes.
At the Aero Club de France where the HERALD correspondent sought information on the subject, M. Georges Besancon, the secretary, declared that, in his opinion, the two balloons in the race burst from the same cause, namely, that the appendix either was too long or too narrow or had become twisted.
"Nothing else," he said, "can account for a balloon of the ordinary type bursting when in the air, unless of course the balloon has been badly constructed. The appendix of a balloon usually is calculated by the builder to allow the right amount of gas to pass at the right moment, that is to say, as the balloon rises and the gas consequently expands and the undue pressure on the walls of the balloon is relieved by the gas being forced downward through this aperture. Unless this aperture is obstructed or has been wrongly calculated the balloon cannot possibly burst. I am convinced that in the two cases, the pilots desired to save as much gas as possible and lengthened the appendix in order to keep within the safety limits.
Comte Henry de La Vaulx said: -
"The pilots probably kept the appendix closed when it should have been open. In both cases this appendix probably was too long. If a balloon is properly constructed and handled, it cannot possibly burst in the air. Happily in both these cases the ripping took place underneath, so that as the balloon began to descend the upper part formed a parachute and broke the fall."
M. Maurinc Mallet, a balloon constructor, stated that in his opinion the pilots in both cases unduly lengthened the appendix.
"Otherwise," he added, "such an accident could not have occurred. A properly calculated balloon cannot burst in the air when appendix or escape pipe is beneath the balloon. It would have to ascend at the rate of more than six meters a second in order to run the risk of bursting. Of course such an ascensional speed is almost unheard of. A spherical balloon, properly calculated and properly handled, is safer in the air than almost anything conceivable.
"I think when we get details from Berlin we shall find the two pilots were carrying out experiments or had forgotten to open the appendix before starting. The only alternative of this theory is that after starting they closed the appendix or that the balloons were incorrectly calculated."
CONQUEROR'S MAKER PREDICTED ACCIDENT - Mr. Leo Stevens Told Mr. Forbes Not to Use Blower, but Aeronaut Disregarded Advice.
Mr. Leo Stevens, of this city [NYC?] who has acted as tutor of all the American aeronauts in the international races and who built the balloon Conqueror, which exploded at an altitude of 4,000 feet last Sunday, spent the greater part of yesterday trying to get information by cable that would show what caused the accident.
As the Conqueror was the only American made balloon in the race, and as there has been sharp competition between French and American manufacturers of balloons during the last year, he feels a very deep interest in the matter and was very eager to learn all he could of the details.
"I am very sure," he said last night, "that the explosion was caused by tying up the neck or appendix of the balloon. Either Mr. Forbes neglected to unfasten it when the balloon left the ground or he has choked it by the use of a blower, which would amount to the same thing, in effect. A balloon of that size, 2,200 cubic meters, would burst at an altitude of 4,000 feet if the neck were tied, even though it were made of steel instead of cloth."
"As a balloon ascends into the lighter atmosphere the gas always expands, and it must have vent or any balloon will burst. If the appendix was tied, my only wonder is that it did not explode before it reached so great an altitude. If the sun had been shining brightly it certainly never would have reached that height without an explosion, because the warmth of the sun always increases the gas expansion.
"It is possible, however, that it was the blower that did all the damage. I had cautioned Mr. Forbes before he went away not to use a blower, because I realized the danger for a man who is not very familiar with the handling of balloons, but he told me he had learned that all the other contestants were going to use them and thought he would be obliged to. The appendix of the Conqueror is forty-eight inches in diameter, and he told me that he was going to put on a blower that would reduce the aperture to two and a half inches. When he told me that I said to him, "Forbes, if you attempt such a foolish thing as that you'll blow up the balloon as sure as fate."
"He laughed and said he was too lucky to have any serious accident. He showed me a large rubber band he had procured to hold the mouth of the blower in the appendix, and I begged him not to think of doing such a foolish thing. Mr. Stevens then explained that a blower was a device attached to a balloon for the purpose of forcing air into the bag after considerable gas has been lost, in order to keep it filled and prevent the balloon from becoming loose and flabby. But the blower, he said, was never used until after the balloon had reached a great altitude or had been a long time in the air. The appendix is the long neck that hangs down from the lower part of the balloon and through which the gas enters during inflation. When the balloon is filled and before the basket is attached it is customary to tie it up, and the removal of the string is always the last thing the careful aeronaut does before giving the word to let go. As the balloon ascends and the gas expands small quantities of gas ooze out through this opening. The cord that opens the valve at the top of the balloon and the cord that controls the "rip" panel also come down through the appendix.
Mr. Stevens related an experience he had the other day at North Adams in making an ascension for Mr. Charles J Glidden.
"In that case," he said, "the string tied around the appendix did not come off readily and I had to climb up into the ropes to release it. When I opened it, we were only 800 feet in the air, but the pressure was so great at that altitude that the gas came out with a report that was heard on the earth and badly frightened the passenger I had in the basket. If I had gone 1,000 feet higher the balloon would have exploded. I am very sorry the accident happened, because it will give a black eye to American balloons, when as a matter of fact, there was nothing whatever the matter with the balloon. It was due to the carelessness or inexperience of the men in charge of it."
He added that, while the length of the appendix might have caused the explosion he was inclined to think it was more likely to be due to some obstruction to the escape of gas through it.
"Forbes insisted on adding about twenty feet to the appendix before he went away," said Stevens, "and I told him when he did it that if he left it at that length he might be blown up. I understand, however, from cables to-day that he cut off ten feet before starting. Even then the appendix was much too long. Once you are in the air it does not do to take any liberties with gas. Let it have its own way and you are safer in a balloon than on a feather bed - but don't fool with it."
[This was the year that Wilbur Wright really proved to the French, and thus to the world, that he had a machine that could fly.]
NEW WRIGHT RECORD BY LANTERN LIGHT - Aeroplanist Betters His Own Work for Carrying a Passenger, Flying by Night. [SDHCCCS] LE MANS, Saturday. - Before a committee of celebrated scientists, aeronauts and business men, Mr Wilbur Wright this afternoon gave a final demonstration of his powers of flight, remaining in the air one hour nine minutes and forty-five seconds, thus establishing a new aeroplane record for flight with a passenger.
The passenger was M. Painleve, of the French Institute, and a member of M. Lazare Weiller's reception committee. It was almost sunset when the flight was commenced. When it was finished it was quite dark. A vast crowd then swarmed across the field and gave Mr. Wright such a reception that even he, who is now accustomed to applause, felt touched by the enthusiasm....
Post and Hawley’s Story of their crash could go here.
The winner’s story:
Seventy-Three Hours in a Balloon
By Colonel Theodor Schaeck, Switzerland
We were in the air for precisely seventy-three hours, thirty hours above the land, forty-three above the sea, between sky and water, seeing nothing but the clouds, the sun the heavens, and, from time to time, towering waves; hearing nothing but the sound of the raging storm which was beating on the North Sea at that time. We beat the endurance record, set up the previous year by Leblanc, of forty-four hours, three minutes. We could easily have carried on for another day, for we were in possession of all our faculties, as was the balloon… I believe, meanwhile, that we have set up a record which will stand for a long time.
The distance as the crow flies, from the point where we landed to Berlin is about 808 miles. But in reality, we covered a much greater distance since before we came down near the Norwegian coast we had described a vast arc, the top of which must have passed through a point beyond the Arctic Circle. And we did not approach the North Sea until we were to the south of the mouth of the Elbe and what is more, we had, on leaving Berlin, described a semi-circle around the south of the town. Therefore, our complete journey must have led us some 1,740 miles. Consequently we averaged a speed of 25 miles per hour.
On Sunday, 11 October 1908, we left Berlin at 3:59 PM, at the moment when we learned that our unhappy rivals in the Conqueror had crashed without hurting themselves. At first we were borne towards Kottbus and thought that our journey would be accomplished solely over dry land. So we had not taken with us certain scientific instruments which would have been useful over the sea.
Apart from that, the fittings of the balloon’s car left nothing to be desired. We had distributed the contents so that our actions might not be impeded and, even though we had 46 bags of ballast weighing 700 kilos with us, we could install ourselves comfortably in our improvised abode, which measured 3 ft 3 inches wide by 4 ft long. We could stretch out in it, by leaning our heads against the edge of the car, and, as in a ship, we made a point of resting at regular intervals. I slept in the evenings until midnight. At that time I relieved my second-in-command, who slept until the morning. When the sun had come up, and the expansion of the gas ensured a normal ascent, we dozed off and slept the sleep of the just until 9 AM.
We spent our first day in steadying the flight of our balloon, as one can clearly see on the records. Twelve hours after our departure, we reached a height of 820 ft and we stayed at that height for a long while. We were traveling in the direction of Magdeburg, and we passed close by at noon on the Monday, The fog, which had until then prevented us from catching sight of the land, parted and we threw out a few messages, of which only one reached its destination…
A little to the north of Bremen, as we were approaching the sea, my friend, who was on watch, heard people shouting: “Come down!” But he continued on his way, and, without a moment’s hesitation, set out across the waves of the North Sea, over which we were to spend the rest of our journey. When I awoke, we had been over the sea for several hours. I asked Lieutenant Emil Messner whether he knew where we were.
He answered merely: “For two or three hours now, over the North Sea.”
Not very much over, however. Since the previous day at 5 PM until the Tuesday at 6:30 AM, for about fourteen hours, therefore, we sailed at a constant height of between 328 and 820 ft, and that was all.
The sky was cloudless, the moon almost full. The sea murmured below us. The minutes we lived through then, we shall never forget.
It was very cold early on Tuesday morning. A thick layer of cloud formed which impeded our view of the sea for almost the whole of the rest of our journey. A little before 7 AM, our balloon began to climb, as it did each morning, and we gradually reached a height of nearly 11,483 ft…
During the course of the afternoon we observed a curious phenomenon. We were sailing along the top of the clouds which were divided into glass frames, as it were. These frames formed a sort of screen, and, from moment to moment, we could see our balloon reflected in them in every detail, and sometimes there was even a three-dimensional effect.
The temperature had been falling all the afternoon, and, a little before 3 PM, as we were crossing over the Gulf Stream, which we recognized when the clouds parted for a moment by the particular brown color of the marine algae which is a distinguishing feature of this current, our balloon descended to such an extent that our guide rope touched the surface of the sea beneath the car.
As we were still falling, my friend suddenly threw the heavy packing case, which was to contain the deflated balloon, into the water.
I said: “You should have cut it up into small pieces. We’ll climb much too high.”
He replied: “I didn’t have time.”
“Were we in danger then?”
“Merely that of getting wet, of sinking our provisions, and of weighing down the balloon car.”
We traveled at a height of 9,000 ft, but soon came down again. We decided that it would be wise to take some precautions in the event that the situation might become critical and we would have to abandon the car. Lieutenant Messner built me a small hemp ladder, so that I could climb up easily among the ropes, and to these ropes we attached all our ship’s papers, carefully enclosed in thermos flasks, for these documents were dearer to us than our lives.
The night passed without incident, although a dreadful storm was whipping up the waves of the ocean throughout the hours of darkness. Our balloon running before the wind was carried along at a headlong speed, the proximity of the Gulf Stream and the continual changes in temperature caused by this current of water.
Once more, a new day dawned, and we rose again. When we reached a height of nearly 13, 131 ft, we began to be plagued by hallucinations. I could hear singing, the barking of a dog, bells ringing. We saw remarkable countryside, running water and very high mountains.
We were still climbing; we reached the highest point of our journey, about 17,388 ft. At this moment, we wanted to test our strength: Lieutenant Messner lifted a bag of ballast on two occasions, and felt his heart beating violently. I did the same, only lifting the bag four times, with great ease. To tell the truth, we were both in perfect health, very pleased with our journey, trusting in our lucky star and in no way affected by the temperature, for the inflated rubber life-jackets which we had tied round our waists as soon as we had set out over the sea, were keeping us beautifully warm. And moreover, we were wearing capacious camelhair coats which were incredibly soft and warm.
We had no notion of any possible danger we might meet. The wind had turned as we had forecast. It was coming from Iceland, and had gradually brought us down to the south; we should have been in the region of Norway. Shortly after having seen our miraculous mirages, and before we had risen to 17,388 ft, we caught sight of land.
I must admit that we greeted this sight with shouts of joy.
This time we were sure that our eyes were not deceiving us. We described what we could see in detail to each other, and our pictures matched perfectly. We were now absolutely sure.
At 1 PM, we sighted a ship: the Cimbria. We went down very rapidly, and soon, we were only 328 ft above the water; then, even nearer. We decided at this point to carry on our way using the guide rope and following the coastline. We let our guide rope trail through the water…
At 3 PM the crew of the Cimbria, which had come very close to us, seized hold of the guide rope against our wishes. We could not make ourselves understood and were dragged along in tow, despite ourselves.
This was the first time that we had come face to face with any sort of danger, in this case that of seeing our balloon explode. The vapor was traveling too quickly towards the ground and the atmospheric pressure was having a sorry effect on our aerostat which still contained gas.
What is more, as we were traveling through islands which were very close to one another, the boat was making abrupt turns, which resulted in our car touching the water at one stage. I consequently went down on board the Cimbria to rid our balloon of some ballast, leaving my second-in-command, Messner, to pilot the balloon, as in the rule-book.
At last, at 5 PM precisely, or seventy-three hours and one minute after our departure from Berlin, we landed at Ersholmen, a harbor near Bergseth, not far from Molde, some distance from Christiansund…
A crowd of Norwegians had run up and lent willing hands to aid us. We then tried to telegraph our arrival. It took no less than two hours to send our message and it was not until 9 PM that we could refresh ourselves in the house of the schoolmaster of Molde….
(excerpted from L’Illustration [Paris] No 3427, 31 October 1908, 1945-1971)
So far the report of Oberst Schaeck. When he wrote at the end of the penultimate chapter: "we won the Gordon Bennett Cup", he was a little ahead of the time. The last meeting of the FAI on May 27th, 1908 actually had decided: "In case a balloon comes down on the sea and is recovered by a ship, the balloon will be taken out of competition, but without any penalizing for the pilot". So it was not easy for the jury. They pulled themselves out of this problem, by announcing on October 31st: "The decisions of the international conference in London from May 27th do not affect this years Gordon Bennett Race, because they had been made after the closing date of this race (February 1st, 1908)". So far in general, now in special: "The time of arrival of the balloon HELVETIA is recorded in its log-book by 3 p.m. on October 14th 1908 and confirmed by two witnesses. At this time the balloon was tethered by its trail rope to the steamer CIMBRIA 12 km out of the coast near the village of Bergset near Bud in the Romsdalsamt (Norway) and towed to land, where it was deflated and packed. The covered distance to the village of Bergset is 1212 km; if this distance is reduced by the distance, covered during the two hours tow by the steamer, which may be estimated with 22 km, there will be a distance to the launch field of 1190 km. As proved by a photography, reproduced in the Norwegian newspaper "Aftenposten" on Monday, October 19th 1908 Nr. 593, the balloon HELVETIA stayed hovered during the tow. Due to these realizations, the jury awards the Gordon Bennett Cup to the balloon HELVETIA, pilot Oberst Schaeck, 2nd pilot Oberleutnant Messner. Signed Busley, Hildebrandt, Moedebeck, Riedinger (Jury).
Thinking, that was it, is an error! The Aero-Club of the United Kingdom filed a protest against this decision (protesting in sports therefore is not an invention of present times!). The Federation Aéronautique International (F.A.I.), called for an extraordinary conference to handle this protest to the Ritz-Hotel in London on January 11th and 12th 1909. The record of this conference contains 15 pages, narrow-printed, and would be boring here. Summarizing, it should be fixed:
It was protested, because Schaeck/Messner landed in the sea at Norway and therefore had to be disqualified. For one reason, there was the decision of the F.A.I from May 1908, for another reason Oberstleutnant Moedebeck as launch-master had told the balloons, to prevent water-landings. Interesting arguments finally led to the rejection of the protest:
· The nomination for the Gordon Bennett Race 1908 was done before February 1st, creating a final contract, which could not be affected by later decisions in May.
· Oberstleutnant Moedebeck indeed was an official representative of the German Luftschiffer-Verband, but not an official of this race. Only the officials were permitted, to announce changes in the rules, therefore they carry an armband with a golden border (which Moedebeck did not have). Also Mister Victor de Beauclair and other competitors had at once raised objection against the order of Moedebeck.
· The HELVETIA was tethered to the fishing boat by its trail-rope against the will of Mister Schaeck and Mister Messner. So they had been kept from completing their flight with a landing on hard surface. Besides this, also a ship has to be considered as part of the country, whose flag it is carrying, so the HELVETIA had landed on a part of the kingdom of Norway".
Three crews had fallen to the sea and had been set to the places 20 to 22 without figuring any distances. This decision was explained by the jury as follows:
"From the pilots fallen to the sea, we only had the log book of our Spanish comrade Montojo, which, still soaked with salt water, proved to us well the dangerous hours, he and his companion Don Jose Romero de Vejade had stood in a heroic way. But the determination of his position in the sea was only estimated by a skipper with a scope of one nautical mile. We think, that this landing in the sea could not be compared with others, most accurately documented landings.
Mr. Harry Hewat had lost his log book and reconstructed it by his memory. We recognize this difficult work very much, but the jury could not possibly acknowledge it as a document. Dr. Niemeyer, our proven pilot, also had lost his log book and was therefore put out of the race.
So you see, gentlemen, that we did not put these pilots out of classification because they had fallen to the sea, but because their landing spots could not have been confirmed by documents in a way, to compare them to other pilots without performing injustice."