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GORDON BENNETT INTERNATIONAL BALLOON RACES

GORDON BENNETT INTERNATIONAL BALLOON RACES

The GORDON BENNETT INTERNATIONAL BALLOON RACES held in Cleveland on 1 Sept. 1930, were brought to the city through the efforts of Clifford Gildersleeve, Ohio governor of the National Aeronautic Assn. In 1906 James Gordon Bennett, publisher and sportsman, had spurred competitive balloon flying by offering a trophy and money to the winner of a long-distance competition. Rules stipulated that the winning nation would hold the trophy and host the race the next year; a nation winning the race 3 times in succession would keep the trophy permanently. In practice, the nation who retained the trophy donated another one to continue the competition. In 1924 Belgium gained permanent possession of the first trophy; the U.S. kept the second cup in 1928 and the third cup in 1932.

Cleveland's 1930 race, officiated by Capt. H. E. Honeywell, a previous Gordon Bennett winner, started from the Cleveland Airport and included balloons from France, Belgium, Germany, and America. The U.S. had 3 entries: Goodyear VIII, piloted by Ward T. Van Orman; City of Cleveland, piloted by R. J. Blair, and City of Detroit, piloted by Edward J. Hill. Each balloonist recorded his altitude, time, and direction several times and sent the information to the ground via large red paper envelopes carrying colored streamers. Finders were asked to send the envelopes directly to Cleveland. The balloonists were scheduled to leave Cleveland at 4:30 P.M. on 1 Sept, and by 3 Sept., all balloons except the Goodyear were down, making Akronite Ward T. Van Orman the winner. Discontinued during World War II, the races resumed in 1983 in Paris.