Chapter 7 - 1912



TWENTY BALLOONS START TOWARD SEA IN CONTEST FOR INTERNATIONAL CUP - Germans Generously Lend Gas Bag to America When Kansas City II Fails. - MR WATTS GOES UP IN DUSSELDORF II. - Germany Loses an Entry, France Protesting Against Substitute for the Late Lieutenant Gericke. - HOPE TO CROSS THE OCEAN - Aeronauts Face Danger of Voyage Over Water, but May Reach England If Wind Persists. [Special Despatch (sic)HCCCS] STUTTGART, Sunday, (OCTOBER 27, 1912) Twenty balloons rose from the starting ground at Cannstatt this afternoon in the contest for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes.

The first to ascend, at eight minutes past four o'clock, was the Picardie, of France, piloted by Mr. Maurice Bienaime. The next, four minutes later, was the Honeymoon, of England, Mr. Jean De Francis, pilot. The others followed at intervals of a few minutes until twenty-one minutes past five o'clock, when the American balloon, Uncle Sam, Mr. H. E. Honeywell, pilot, made an ascent.

Then there was a long wait, as the Dusseldorf II, which was to be piloted by Mr. John Watts, was only half filled. But at half-past six o'clock, when night had fallen, Mr. Watts was able to follow the other contestants before indeed, the two other American balloons, Million Population and Uncle Sam, had entirely disappeared.

Mr. Watts originally arranged to pilot the Kansas City II but at three o'clock in the afternoon, when the filling of the balloon was nearly completed, it was discovered there were rents in the envelope which rendered the ascent impossible. The Germans, in a sportsmanlike spirit, placed the Dusseldorf II at the disposal of the American pilot, so he was able to remain in the race.


Germany Loses an Entry


The Dusseldorf II was to have been piloted in the contest by Dr. Broeckelmann, replacing Lieutenant Hans Gericke, killed a week ago.


M. Emile Dubonnet, representative of the Aero Club of France, however, emphatically declared if Dr. Broeckelmann started he preferred to withdraw from the contest.


The following is a complete list of the competing balloons, giving the order and time of starting: -

[list]  includes one from DENMARK   and RUSSIA, which withdrew.




Weather conditions at the start were rather unfavorable, a light northeasterly breeze prevailing in the lower strata of the atmosphere to a height of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). Above that altitude the direction of the wind was south-southwest and the velocity considerably greater.


Face Danger from Sea


The wind probably will drive the balloons over Frankfurt in the direction of Cologne. They may reach England, but then an entering current from another point of the compass may veer them to the right and they may be blown across the North Sea in the direction of Scandinavia. At any rate the pilots apparently have to face the danger of descent in the North Sea.

Scenes at the starting ground were very impressive. Vast throngs of enthusiastic spectators filled the entire enclosure. The whole city of Stuttgart made a holiday. Great numbers came from distant parts of the country. A few minutes before four o'clock the King and Queen of Wurtemberg and their suite arrived at Cannstatt and took places in the grand stand. Others on the royal stand were Duke Albrecht, the heir presumptive; his three sons; the Prince and Princess of Wied, the latter the daughter of the King; Duke and Duchess Robert of Wurtemberg and the Oberburgomaster of Stuttgart.

Among the prominent spectators were the Ministers of the government of Wurtemberg, members of the Stuttgart municipality and numerous representative German sportsmen from all parts of Germany.


King Uses Camera


Just before the balloons started the King of Wurtemberg took several snapshots of pilots in the balloon baskets and waved cordial parting greetings to all the aeronauts.

Preparations for the start were carried out thoroughly by the Organizing Committee. Everything was in readiness at the appointed hour, four o'clock. Some difficulty, however, had been experienced in filling the balloons from the gas mains, for which twenty-four standpipes were used. It was found impossible to maintain constant high pressure and filling went on very slowly. The density of the gas was stated to be between 3.9 and 4.

Considerable excitement was caused among the competitors by the discovery of rents in the envelope of the Kansas City II. The anxiety of the American pilots was greatly relieved when the Germans so obligingly offered the Dusseldorf II as a substitute.


Here follows an article in GERMAN!! Stuttgart October 27. can someone send this to us?




AMERICA WINNER IN THREE PREVIOUS RACES - Germany for Second Time Holds the Trophy Through Last Year's Victory of Lieutenant Gericke.


Three Balloons Land in International Cup Race - Mr. Berry, After Voyage of 420 miles, Descends to Earth Near Baltic Sea, and Mr. Watts Is Ruled Out of Contest Because of Late Start. - THE UNCLE SAM SEEN; IS MOVING NORTHEAST - [SDHCCCS] BERLIN, Monday.


EXCLUDED AMERICANS CONTINUE VOYAGE -Mr. Watts Balloon Decided to Have Advantage in Being Filled After Sunset.

Stuttgart, Monday.


France Breaks World's Record in Balloon Race - Messrs. Bienaime and Rumpelmayer Cover 1,364 Miles in contest for Cup. - DESCEND NEAR MOSCOW -Twelve Contestants Out of Twenty Reported Down in International Competition. -


Distance record for previous international races, 1,172 miles, made by Mr. Alan R Hawley, America. Previous world's distance record, 1,211 miles, made by M. Emile Dubonnet, France - [SDHCCCS ] Moscow, Tuesday. (October 29, 1912) M. Maurice Bienaime, who with M. Rumpelmayer ploted the French balloon Picardie in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, landed at Riazan, near Moscow, covering a distance of 2,200 kilometers (1,364 miles) in forty-six hours.


Exceeds Record made by Messrs. Dubonnet and Dupont


The world's long distance balloon record of 1,211 miles made by Messrs Emile Dubonnet and Pierre Dupont January 7 and 8 last is exceeded by the distance covered by the Picardie, as given above in the special cable dispatch to the HERALD from Moscow.

Messrs. Dubonnet and Dupont sailed from La Motte-Breuil in France to Sokolowska, in Russia. Previously for eleven years the distance record had been held by Comte de la Vaulx who covered 1,183 miles from Vincennes, near Paris, to Korostychew, Russia October 9, 10 and 11, 1900.  ?

The world's duration record of 73 hours, made by Colonel Schaeck, the Swiss aeronaut, still stands. It was made October 11 to 14, 1908, from Berlin to Borgset in Norway.

MM. Bienaime and Rumpelmayer made a voyage in the Picardie from Compiege to Riga of 1,050? miles last year, including a stretch of three and one half miles across the Baltic. In 1910 M. Bienaime won the Robert Cup, of the Aero Club of France for his trip from Saint Cloud to Amberg, Germany. The same balloon in April 1911 made an altitude record for France of 9,488 meters (31,100 feet). -


BALLOONS CROSS SEA; OTHERS HALT ON VERGE - [SDHCCCS] STUTTGART, Tuesday. (October 29, 1912)- News of the landing of twelve out of twenty balloons in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes has been received. Descent for the most part has been made at various points in the territory extending from the German and Russian coasts on the Baltic Sea, to beyond Budapest. Several balloons crossed the Baltic, but their names are as yet unknown.

The balloons whose landings were reported yesterday were the American Million Population, the Danish Graf Zeppelin and the Swiss Azurea.

The Belgian Minckelers, piloted by M. F. Gerard, made a safe descent at half past ten o'clock last night at Alexanderhof, in Churland, not far from the port of Riga. M. Gerard covered 1,250 kilometers (775 miles).

The Swiss Balloon Helvetia, with Lieutenant Sorg as pilot, landed with difficulty at five minutes to five yesterday afternoon, forty-two kilometers west of Danzig, a distance of 860 kilometers (533 miles).

The Austrian Astarte, piloted by Herr C von Siegmundt, came down at twenty-one minutes after five o'clock yesterday afternoon at Bielitz, in Austrian Silesia.

The Italian balloon Libia landed at half-past three o'clock yesterday afternoon at Gross, Gorzyn, Province of Posen.

The second Austrian balloon, the Busley, came down at Puszta, Filseo, southeast of Budapest.

The German Reichsflugverein, piloted by Herr Otto Korn, landed at a quarter before two this morning near Dukchty, in the government of Kovno, Russia.

The third Austrian balloon, the Frankfurt, piloted by Mr F. H. Lehnart, landed in a snowstorm near Rosenovskoy, in the Lublin district.

The English Honeymoon, piloted by Mr. Jean de Francia, came down at Kuisulapa, near Breslau, after forty-one hours in the air.

The second German balloon, the Harburg III is stated to have come down near Rominten, but this report is unofficial.

The French balloon, the Picardie, piloted by M. Maurice Bienaime, passed over Dresden at half-past eight o'clock last evening and reported all well.



Mr. A Von Hoffman of St. Louis who aided Mr. Berry in piloting the American balloon Million Population, returned to Stuttgart to-day. In an interview, he said: - "After the balloon circled round Stuttgart three hours it began to move northward toward Ludwigsburg. We had with us forty-three sacks of sand ballast and other material equivalent to four bags of ballast. At ten o'clock at night, after the balloon had oscillated like a pendulum between altitudes of 400 and 1,500 meters (1,300 and 4,920 feet), we at last found a position of equilibrium. We floated along, throwing out no ballast until seven in the morning without rising or falling more than fifty meters at most. In fact, it was a splendid night trip.

We thought we should pass over Berlin but were driven somewhat eastward of the capital. As soon as the warmth of the sun made itself felt the balloon began to rise higher and shot straight upward to about 2,100 meters (7,872 feet), finally drifting in equilibrium at a height of 2,000 meters (6,500 feet). The course was northward, toward the Baltic Sea, but twenty miles from Grambin the wind veered and drove us northwest. It was decided to land before reaching the sea, but the balloon dropped in the "Half," or inlet of the Baltic, where there was four feet of water. We threw out ballast and the balloon shot up. It was driven against some rail fencing, which was ripped up. We still had thirty-five bags of ballast and should have ventured on crossing the Baltic had the wind not veered. Soon after landing we saw a balloon crossing the sea at a great height, but were unable to identify it. Fishermen helped us to pack up the balloon. Mr. Berry returned to Berlin."


France Leads in Balloon Cup Race of Nine Nations - With All But Two Contestants Landed World Record Made by M. Bienaime Stands - Mr. Honeywell in Uncle Sam Makes Long Voyage. FRIENDS ARE SEEKING NEWS OF MR JOHN WATTS.  [sdhcccs] STUTTGART, Wednesday. (October 30, 1912)

Kansas City Club Asks Government Search for Mr Watts. Kansas City, Mo. Wednesday The Kansas City Aero Club today sent a telegram to the Secretary of State, Mr. Knox, asking him to request the governments of Norway, Sweden and Denmark to search for the Dusseldorf II piloted by Mr. John Watts of Kansas City. Failure to receive reports of Mr. Watts or of his aid, Mr. Arthur T. Atherholt of Philadelphia is causing members of the club much anxiety. -


FRANCE WINS RACE FOR BALLOON CUP; TWO MEN MISSING - Nineteen Land in International Contest, M. Bienaime Victor at 1,364 miles. M. LEBLANC ENDS IN SECOND PLACE - In the Ile de France, Descends Near Moscow, 124 Miles Behind the Leader in Competition. - CONCERN OVER AMERICANS - Mr. Watts and Mr. Atherholt Fail to Report and Fears Expressed They Sailed Over Sea. [SDHCCCS] Paris, Thursday.  much conjecture about Watts. had been disqualified because of too much gas.

list of competitors and distance covered


Mr. Hawley Has Confidence in Skill of Missing Aeronauts


...these contests show a keen interest in a purely sporting event, considering the expense of transporting balloons and pilots to a foreign country and the comparatively small amount of the cash prizes when divided among so many contestants. -


AMERICAN, SAILING BALLOON, IN PERIL - Berlin Fears That Watts and Atherholt Are Lost in the Arctic Sea. - BERLIN, Saturday (November 2, 1912) - Grave fears are entertained for the safely of the balloon Dusseldorf II with its American pilot, Mr. John Watts, of Kansas City, and his aid, Arthur T. Atherholt, of Philadelphia. The balloon is the only one of the twenty gasbags that ascended at Stuttgart Sunday evening in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes that has not come down. It is now feared that the balloon may have reached the Arctic Ocean. Some are inclined to believe it has landed in a remote part of Russia, and that Mr. Watts has been unable to reach a telegraph station to send word of his whereabouts.

It is not known whether Mr. Watts was supplied with adequate maps and it is argued that he and his companion were placed in a regrettable position if they were not better equipped than was another American aeronaut, Mr. Berry, who started in the race with maps not even showing the position of the Baltic Sea.

The efforts of Mr. Watts and his aid are all in vain because they were disqualified a short while after they were aloft. They are not yet aware of the fact. The balloon they are using was filled with gas in the evening when the air was cooler than that injected in the other bags in the daytime. Watts was ruled out of the race on the ground that he enjoyed this advantage. The impression prevails here that if the Americans are safe they have covered a greater distance than the French team which has been declared the winner.

John Berry and A. von Hoffman, of the "Million Population" balloon, of St. Louis, believed they saw the Dusseldorf II when they landed near Danzig. In discussing the event the men said: -

"After we had landed near Ueckermuende at noon on Monday we saw about an hour later a balloon sailing at the height of from 9,000 to 11,000 feet toward the northeast. It soon disappeared in the clouds.

"We believe the balloon was the Dusseldorf lI. Since the balloon was so high in the air and was traveling at least forty miles an hour, the pilot could not have descended before dark, and we were of opinion that he would not be able to tell where he was before next morning. By that time he must have sailed at least six hundred miles, and if the balloon kept in the direction it was taking when we observed it, it must have been carried far into Lapland or even beyond into the Arctic Ocean." -


Lost American Aeronauts Reported Safe in Russia - John Watts and A. T. Atherholt Land at Pskov. - MAKE 1,000 MILE VOYAGE -Friends Believe Report of Completion of International Race Was Delayed Because of Arrest. [SDH] KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sunday (November 3, 1912) - John Watts and A. T. Atherholt, the American aeronauts who have been missing since the balloon, the Dusseldorf II started in the race for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes at Stuttgart on Sunday, October 27, are safe at Pskov, Russia, a city lying south of St. Petersburg and one thousand miles from Stuttgart. News of their safety was received here to-day by Mrs. Watts in a cablegram from Pskov, which read:  - "Both well and free."

Mrs. Watts and George M. Myers, president of the Kansas City Aero Club, believe that the message means that the aeronauts were arrested after landing on Russian territory.


Aeronauts Made Long Voyage Unaware That They Were Disqualified


Messrs. Watts and Atherholt left Stuttgart with the contestants in the international balloon race on Sunday, October 27, in the balloon Dusseldorf II which they had borrowed from the German competitors after their own gas bag had developed leaks. The two balloonists, members of the American team entered for the race, were ruled out after starting, on the ground that they had ascended after sunset, this giving them an advantage over their opponents in having cooler gas and consequently greater lifting power. They proceeded, unconscious of this decision.

Twenty-four hours later John Berry and A. von Hoffman of St. Louis, in the American balloon Million Population,




 landing near Stettin, on the shore of the Baltic Sea, saw another balloon at a great height sailing across the sea toward the northeast. They declared later their belief that this was the balloon piloted by Mr. Watts. On the course observed there was more than three hundred miles of open water ahead of the drifting aeronauts and nightfall was close at hand.

On this account friends of the aeronauts feared that their balloon might have fallen into the sea.

Mr. Watts and Mr. Atherholt spent the evening of September 9, just before they left this city [NYC]  for Stuttgart, with the other members of the American team and a small party of aeronautic enthusiasts at the Aero Club of America, No 297 Madison Avenue. Among these were the secretary, Winthrop M. Southworth, and Augustus Post.

Mr. Post, who was aid to Alan R. Hawley in his American record trip in 1910, said yesterday that Mr. Watts and Mr. Atherholt showed strong determination to keep their balloon aloft to the limit of its endurance. Consequently he was not surprised at the report that they had pressed on across the Baltic Sea when others had descended on the shore.

"Usually," he said, "a balloon fully equipped for these contests has a sufficient number of life buoys or cork in some form fastened to the basket to keep it afloat if she falls in the water. Whether the balloon which Mr. Watts and Mr. Atherholt borrowed from the Germans was thus provided I do not know. It was quite possible, however for them to have transferred the equipment from their own disabled balloon before rising."

Mr. Post recalled that at the time Mr. Hawley and he made their record voyage into Canada and were missing for a week needless alarm was caused by those who assumed the worst from their long silence, due only to the remoteness of their landing place from human habitation and means of communication.

Mr. Atherholt is a resident of Philadelphia, and until recently was president of the Aero Club of Pennsylvania. Since he went to Germany A. Leo Stevens, the balloonist of this city, [NYC?] who has made ascensions with him, received a letter in which Mr. Atherholt wrote that he was determined to cross the water if necessary to win the contest.

At the Aero Club of America last night regret was expressed that the excellent voyage of the aeronauts will avail them nothing because of their disqualification. The world's distance record for spherical balloons was made in the race of last week for the Coupe Internationale des Aeronautes, by Maurice Bienaime and Rene Rumpelmayer, in the French balloon Picardie, which made a voyage of 1364 mile from Stuttgart to Riazan, near Moscow.


This record held for 93 years, but was finally broken in 2005]


Would like to have Bienaime story in French and English.