Chapter 4 - 1909
Seventeen Balloons, with the America, Start from Zurich, Switzerland in Race for International Cup - Cheered by Vast Crowd of 200,000 People, Aeronauts of All Nations Ascend at Zurich. - WIND IS WHOLLY IN THEIR FAVOR - Southwest, It Seemed Certain to Waft Aeronauts Toward Russia and Away from Peril of Sea. - FETE DAY FOR SWITZERLAND - Mr. Mix, the Representative from the United States, Even Competitors Agree, May Be the Winner. -
[Special Despatch HCCCS] Schlieren, Switzerland, Sunday.[OCTOBER 3, 1909] - Just before the seventeen balloons in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes started off to-day amid cheers from two hundred thousand spectators Mr. Cortlandt F. Bishop, president of the Aero Club of America, said to me: -
"You can tell all Americans through the Herald that, although the American Aero Club has only one balloon in the race, that balloon is just as likely to win as though we had three. It and the Ile de France are the two best balloons in the field, and have in Mr. Mix and M. Leblanc two very able pilots, each of whom has been very near carrying off the International Cup on previous occasions. Both have excellent chances.
Mr. Mix, with whom I had a talk in the basket of the America II, as he was making his final preparations, the perspiration standing on his brow from his exertions, said: -
"I feel in splendid trim. Everything has been done as regards details to enable the United States to win. I wish only for a bit more wind. I calculate it is now about twenty kilometers."
The Albatross Starts
Sharp at three the Italian balloon Albatross, with Senor Guido Placenza, went away, but from that time starts were slow, owing to delays caused by balloonists not being ready. The Utopie, of Belgium, pilot M. De Brouckere, kept every one waiting till half-past three, at which time the first starter was almost out of sight. In a brisk southwesterly breeze, it took a very high course.
The Ile de France, a beautiful looking silk balloon, M. Alfred Leblanc pilot, went off five minutes later, taking a tow line. The Deutschland, Captain Von Abercrom, started five minutes later. It took a quarter of an hour before the America, looking like a picture, came along to the starting point. Mr. Mix, being very chary of wasting ballast, took considerable time adjusting things to start.
With him is a keen young French aeronaut, M. Roussel. A great water anchor which the local press insists on calling a parachute, hung over the side. [This was a sea anchor, used for centuries by boats, and inspired by the balloons that outdistanced their rescuers in last year's race. The partially collapsed envelope acted as a sail, and drove the basket at speeds higher than a sailboat, or a small freighter, could go. Toss the object that looks like a parachute overboard, attached to the load ring, and the drag will slow the basket dramatically.] Loud cheers rang out as he left the ground. Just behind followed the splendid looking British balloon Planet, specially built for the race. If good looks are any criterion it ought to play a prominent role. The Planet started two minutes after the America II.
Three minutes after, in the Austria, went Dr. Anton Schlein and Dr. Siegmundt. It is a very comely silk balloon. At a quarter-past four tardily came the Swiss balloon, the Cognac, and the fine looking French balloon, the Condor, with M. Emile Dubonnet. Four minutes later the Berlin, with Herr W. Broeckelmann, went off. At twenty-five minutes to five the Swiss favorite, the Azurea, Captain Messner and M. Leon Givaudan on board, started. The Ville de Bruxelles was a long way behind time. The Italian balloon, Zizza, Captain Frassinetti, went low. The next to leave was the Jesus Duro, with the pilot whose balloon was kidnapped yesterday.
Unwittingly Purloins Balloon. What is the story of this kidnapped balloon?
This extraordinary incident, it is now understood, was due to a mistake made by the makers of the cloth, W. M. De Beauclere, this being the unwilling purloiner of the Belgian balloon Henriette.
At ten minutes to six the French balloon Picardie went away. Six minutes later the Busley, Paul Meckel, followed.
Finally, amid vociferous cheering, Colonel Schaeck, accompanied by Paul Armbruster, went off on the Helvetia punctually on the stroke of five o'clock.
There were seventeen starters. The Italian balloon Ruwenzori, the Spanish balloon Montana and the Belgian balloon Henriette being absent, although the Jesus Duro replaced the latter.
There was a good, straight, fair ballooning breeze of about forty kilometers at an altitude of 2,000 meters, calculated to make the race one of the most sporty which ever has taken place. There will be no fallings in the sea this year, but long land flights, most likely to end in Roumania, somewhere in Bulgaria or along the valley of the Danube.
Vice-President Gugelberg rendered invaluable services as starter. He has all along been one of the most active and hard working members of the Organization Committee. Count and Countess Zeppelin were among the interested spectators. The Parseval airship whizzed about over the heads of the spectators at intervals during the afternoon until the close of the proceedings. The day has been a grand success.
SWITZERLAND MAKES IT NATIONAL HOLIDAY – Mr. Cortlandt F. Bishop the Tireless Aid of Mr. Mix in the Interest of America. [SDHCCCS] Zurich, Sunday. - International Cup day, as had been predicted by the Meteorological Bureau, showed a great improvement on the preceding day. The weather rained itself out during the night and in a dull leaden canopy of clouds encouraging, irregular patches of blue were seen, with the sun making efforts to break through the dark mantle. The wind was entirely absent.
The Schlieren ballooning field, which is 500 meters long and 300 meters broad, was one great quagmire, rapidly churned into oozing, liquid mud. Therefore it was quite useless to attempt to keep clean or even decent in appearance.
Herr von Gugelberg, the vice president, who is a most active man and usually noted for his smart appearance, looked as if he had been up to his knees in mud, and so did many more. The Construction Committee had done its utmost to cope with the uncomfortable conditions, laying down planks and cinders, which acted as oases in the general sea of mud through which the people wallowed. The crowds were vast and the town last night was as full as an egg.
The earliest trains -"specials run in parts of the country" - began to pour multitudes into the station at Zurich, and this continued during the morning till the officials were nearly driven to distraction.
A National Fete Day
The crowd, which during the night invaded the cafes and restaurants, this morning was thus vastly increased in numbers and literally besieged them. The people came from all quarters. I saw the national costumes of the different cantons, and strange looking, simple people who clubbed together came from a distance in decorated country carts.
It was evident at an early hour that it was not only the day of the balloon meeting, but a grand national festival as well. Soon the hills around the balloon park were black with crowds. Cheap stands were erected and soon filled up.
Mr. Cortlandt F. Bishop, president of the American Aero Club, full of energy, had come down early to attend to everything which might tend to a successful trip of the American balloon, the America II, Mr. Mix being the pilot, who also took last year's voyage in the same balloon. Mr. Mix said: - "Don't forget that when McCoy landed at Hohen Wieschendorf he had the best position of any balloon in the race, but the young Swedish officer who had charge of the maps as an expert decided that the water before them was the North Sea, instead of which it was the Baltic. Had that mistake not been made all that had to be done was to let the balloon go ahead. She would surely have gone across Sweden. She had a splendid safe track open to her through Scandinavia and would have undoubtedly won the cup."
Many Distinguished Visitors
Among those noticed about taking a lively interest in the details was Prince Roland Bonaparte, Admiral Charles Campbell, Comte Castillon Saint Victor, Comte Robians, Baron Crawhez, Baron von Zaylen, M Surcouf, M. Paul Tissandier, M. Rousserau, M. Leon Barthou, MM. Paul and Rene Gasnier, M. Ernest Zens, M. Georges Besancon, Mr. Roger Wallace, Captain Grubb, Captain Castagnaris, M. Guido Jacobs, president of the Belgian Aero Club; Comte Henry de la Vaulz, Professor Abegg and Privy Councillor Busley.
The result of an inspection was the conviction on the part of all that the British balloon, the Planet, appeared to have the most carefully arranged outfit. The English, after constant defeat with the old time silk balloon, which they tenaciously held to, have this new one, which to-day rises for the first time, as they come round to think of caoutchouc [rubber] of the Continental make. It has a short fiber mattress and all sorts of necessaries neatly done up in bags. The whole basket is full of simple, solid comfort.
The America's Neatness
The America looked very neat and new as though it had never been out. It has its entire sides padded with fiber. It floated simply and was very comfortably furnished at Dusseldorf. It is a new balloon with an old basket.
The Cognac carries with her snowshoes and a skilled mountain guide.
The Belgian Utopie had the smallest and deepest basket.
The Ile de France is surrounded with floats and is provided with a water anchor.
Aluminum Paint Protects It
The Ville De Bruxelles is covered with aluminum paint. The effect is pretty, but balloonists do not believe in the Azurea.
Captain Messner said it was ideal ballooning weather, but that he was dead tired, having been up all night trying to settle the trouble of the Belgian missing balloon, yet he had made a brief trip in the Parseval. [Zeppelin dirigible]
This balloon, like the Helvetia, has a cap over the valve to prevent rain and the sun having a harmful effect. The Helvetia, probably owing to her experiences last year, seems more fully prepared for a watery journey, having cork floaters all around the sides, cork flooring, floating mattresses and a very long rope ladder, with wooden rungs in case it should be necessary to descent into a boat, which the occupants had to do last year via the guide rope.
At a quarter past two o'clock the meteorological professor addressed the assembled pilots, saying that such good conditions prevailed as had not been the case in other years. They were assured that west and southwest winds would now range southwest and in the higher altitudes the same, promising to continue steadily for forty-eight hours at good speed. They might, therefore, expect to reach the Balkan provinces, Bohemia or upper Austria. -
RACING FOR CUP, SWISS BALLOON COVERS 465 MILES - Lieutenant Colonel Schaeck Lands at Strelitz in Coupe Internationale Contest. - NEWS SENDS THRILL THROUGH HIS COUNTRY - Receipt of Telegram Announcing His Flight Causes Sensation in Zurich. OTHERS GO TOWARD EAST - Italian Competitor Descends at Rokingtab, in Bohemia, and M. Dubonnet at Reichenbach, Silesia. [SDHCCCS} Zurich, Monday.[October 4, 1909] - Telegrams reporting the whereabouts of various contestants in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, which started here yesterday, have begun to be received.
A great sensation was caused by a telegram which arrived at six o'clock this evening form Lieutenant Colonel Schaeck announcing that he had landed in the vicinity of Strelitz. He tells of much rain and fog. The news sent a thrill through Switzerland.
Captain Abercrom, in the Dusseldorf II, was seen at half-past nine this morning floating steadily along northwest of Koeniggratz in Bohemia. He still has six bags of ballast. His chances evidently are nil. He was drifting in a rainstorm.
The Berlin, with Dr Brockelmann, passed over Opiatowitz at eleven o'clock this morning, traveling at a height of 3,500 meters, also in rain.
Signor Guido Placenza, in the Italian balloon Albatross, landed at midday at Rokingtab, Bohemia.
M. Emile Dubonnet landed at half-past three near Reichenbach, Silesia.
The Belgian balloon Utopie, with M. de Brockere, landed at half-past eleven at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. The Austria, with M. Anton Schelin, came to the ground near Landesbut-Machren; the French balloon Picardie, with M. Bienaime, in the district of Medadeant, Silesia; the Spanish balloon Jesus Duro, piloted by a Belgian, M. Albert Vieminex, at Hofstettin, near Linez, in Upper Austria, and the British balloon, Planet, with Mr. McLean, at Rinenin, Bohemia.
Six of the balloons have not yet been reported. As Mr. Edgar W. Mix, the only American entrant, is not yet known to have landed the chances of an American victory, which has always been thought possible, are greatly enhanced.
The following dispatch from Mr. Mix was dropped this afternoon when passing over Bohemia: - "Raining continually for two hours. We are voyaging northeast; have still sixteen bags of ballast."
Mr. Mix, Only American in Balloon Landing in Russian Poland, 650 miles - Triumphs Over Sixteen Competitors After Thrilling Flight Through Storm - VICTORY DUE TO HIS CARE OF HIS BALLAST - Husbanding Bags, Aeronaut Was Able to Remain in the Air for Thirty-Five Hours. FRENCH ENTRANT SECOND - Alfred Leblanc Made Descent at Kubia?, in Hungary, 518 Miles Away. - [SDHCCCS} Zurich, Wednesday [October 6, 1909] - "America has won," was the cry which spread like lightning from one end of Zurich to the other among people who for the last twenty-four hours have been awaiting the result of the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes in a state of the highest tension. The victory is highly popular. Inasmuch as the Swiss have not themselves won, they are better pleased to see the prize fall to America than to any other country.
When the news became known many bottles of the best wine were uncorked forthwith and the health of Mr. Mix drunk, as well as that of his cheerful and youthful friend and helper M. Roussel. A little before three o'clock the following telegram, dated Warsaw, was received: - "The America II landed on Tuesday morning early, at three minutes past three o'clock, at Gutowa, near Ostrolenka, northeast of Warsaw. MIX."
This dispatch undisputably gave the American Balloon first place. According to measurements made by Professor Mauer, of the Central Meteorological Bureau, the balloon traveled 1,045 kilometers as the crow flies, which makes Mr. Mix an easy winner over M Leblanc, who traveled 834 kilometers.
How Mr. Mix Won
Around a large table where Herr Gugelberg, vice president of the Swiss Aero Club, and other members of the club sat this afternoon conversation turned upon the American's fine feat, in view of the heavy rain he had to cope with. It was recalled how Mr. Mix delayed himself considerably in starting, owing to his unwillingness to waste sufficient ballast to enable the balloon to rise.
It was precisely by such tactics, which tried the patience of the officials considerably, that he won the race; for he calculated to the ounce the amount of ballast he could abandon in order to rise into the air. In other words he got away with more ballast than any other balloon in the race. It was Herr Gugelberg who started him, wherefore he is in a position to speak with authority on Mr. Mix's achievement.
"Mr. Mix," he said, "was splendid in his tactics at the start. By carefully balancing his balloon he got away with forty bags of ballast, which gave him every chance of winning. At the outset half a bag of ballast may make the difference between remaining another night in the air or not. By economizing his ballast, he gave the balloon every chance.
"Mr. Mix's time of thirty-five hours and seven minutes in the air creates no new record, any more than his distance, which is way behind Mr. Lahm and Colonel Schaeck. But, considering the terrible weather, especially the heavy rain, the figures make a particularly fine showing.
Expect Records Soon
At the time of writing the American's victory is assured beyond a doubt. It is not official, however and will not be until the record books of all the competitors have reached the Swiss Aero Club and have been verified. Most of the competitors will have returned here by to-morrow or the day after.
The victory of the America II carries with it the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes of 1,500 francs, the 2,500 franc Riedlinger trophy, the Eden Hotel prize, consisting of a telephoto apparatus and the right for the pilot to have his portrait painted by Herr von Grabow.
M. Leblanc will get 3,000 francs in cash and a gold chronometer. Captain Messner, pilot of the Swiss balloon Azurea, gets 1,000 francs and a gold chronometer, given by the Anglo-American Company. Colonel Schaeck, who is classed fourth, gets 500 francs in cash and a gold chronometer.
IN HANDS OF POLICE AFTER WINNING CUP - Mr. Mix Telegraphs to Zurich Telling of His Flight and Descent in Poland. Zurich, Wednesday. - In a dispatch dated Ostrolenka announcing his descent Mr. Mix said: -
"I landed in the midst of a large pine grove in the forest of Gutova, west of Ostrolenka and north of Warsaw, at three o'clock Tuesday morning. I encountered a heavy rain. My ballast was exhausted when I came down. At present I am in the hands of the police but all is going well.
"I had bad weather Sunday night. It was cloudy and rain fell, and I used half my ballast before morning. The weather was so thick that it was impossible to locate my position except for one hour south of Prague and a star observation I took at latitude 51 degrees 45 minutes, 1 sec., and longitude 10 degrees, 0m, 38 sec.
Of the division of balloons which were carried more to the southward M. Leblanc, one of the French pilots, reached the furthermost point. He descended in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, being forced to abandon his balloon owing to an accident upon landing. M. Leblanc covered a distance estimated at 1,015 kilometers (630.31 miles). M. Messner's distance was about the same as M. Leblanc's and Colonel Schaeck, a Swiss entry, covered 795 kilometers (493.69 miles). The others covered lesser distances.
It is possible that Mr. Mix, by jockeying, was able to catch a more northerly current of air, and that after he passed to the south of Prague he continued to the point where he landed, north of Warsaw. He is the only contestant to cross the Russian frontier.
It is impossible to explain why Mr. Mix should have been molested by the Russian police, as in anticipation of a landing in Russia each one of the pilots was provided at Zurich before starting with a special Russian passport guaranteed by the Russian Minister to Switzerland to protect them against annoyance. The American Embassy at St Petersburg has been advised of Mr. Mix's predicament and asked to take the matter up at once with the Russian authorities.
Captain von Abercrom, representing Germany, is fifth, and M. V. de Beauclair, another Swiss, is sixth.
WILL EXPEDITE RELEASE - Russian Premier Promises to Aid Mr. Mix in Predicament. – St. Petersburg, Wednesday. - When the news that the American balloonist, Mr. Edgar W. Mix, was under arrest at Ostrolenka, north of Warsaw, was communicated to the Premier, M. Stolypin, at his country estate this afternoon, the Premier promised to expedite his release.
FELT HE WOULD WIN - Geneva, Wednesday, - Praise for Mr. Edgar W. Mix's victory is heard on all sides, the winner of the international balloon race being extremely popular in Swiss aeronautic circles. The American victories in aeroplaning and ballooning are the subject of interesting discussion and comment. Prior to the start of the race, Swiss aviators recall, Mr. Mix, when asked about his chances of winning, said: - "Every balloon has a good chance. The America II will try its utmost and I think we will win."
POPULAR IN PARIS - Paris, Wednesday. - While the French people are disappointed to have the United States hold both blue ribbons of the air, Mr. Edgar W Mix is popular here, and the Aero Club de France will probably give a banquet in his honor. -
ST LOUIS WANTS RACE – St. Louis, Mo., Wednesday. - Following the receipt of a dispatch telling of the winning of the international balloon race by Mr. Mix the Aero Club of St. Louis announced it would try to get the next international balloon race and the international aviation races. -
Notes on technology changes. Von Abercrom's sleeping apparatus.??
the sea anchor mentioned above at the start of this race was a result of the landings at sea in the 1908 race, where the boats could not catch the baskets, racing thru the seas propelled by a sail consisting of a partially deflated envelope.
Variometer - scraps of paper that the pilot dropped over the side. They fell at a known 30 feet per minute or about 6 inches per second. By watching the paper, the pilot could determine whether he was rising or falling, and at what speed.
Barograph - a sealed recording barometer was part of everyone's equipment. The officials opened it at the end of the contest to check the flight levels.
Sextant - some pilots knew how to use one to locate their position.