The world of sport ballooning lost one of its pioneers with the death of Don Piccard on September 14, 2020. He was involved in the renaissance of hot air ballooning and a true pioneer of the sport. All of us who wonder at the sight of a hot air balloon in the sky, are in his debt.
A. Roy Knabenshue became interested in lighter-than-air flight after seeing a balloon ascension when he was 5 years old and would become the first person to successfully pilot a dirigible in the United States, flying Thomas S. Baldwin’s California Arrow at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
The new film The Aeronauts truly captures the excitement of ballooning in the 19th century, even if it makes a few historical errors along the way. Ballooning expert Tom Paone explores the history behind the film.
Only two survived the crash of the Wingfoot Express—Henry Wacker, the chief mechanic, and John Boettner, the pilot. They became known as members one and two of the Caterpillar Club, an organization formed in November 1922 consisting of people who had used parachutes to make an emergency jump.
The 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only unit that stormed the beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944, that was comprised entirely of African American soldiers, played a vital role in protecting the ships and soldiers during the D-Day invasion.
The world of sport aviation suffered a tragic loss on March 25, 2019, with the death of Julian R.P. Nott after an accident on the ground following a successful landing of an experimental balloon. Nott was one of the founders of the modern sport ballooning movement and an innovator in the field.
In the wake of the Black Sox Scandal, Baseball was looking to restore its integrity with a leader with his feet firmly on the ground. They elected Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the first Commissioner (or “Czar”) of Baseball. A long-serving jurist from Chicago, Landis was known for his decisions against big businesses, such as Standard Oil, and for slipping out to Cubs and White Sox games. But Landis also had his head in the clouds, a true aviation enthusiast!