Posts Tagged ‘star

They fell to Earth

painting by 19th century Polish artist Witold Pruskowski

Witold Pruskowski, Falling Star, 1884.

illustration from 19th century French literary magazine

‘Willette’, illustration from Le Pierrot, N° 3, 20 July 1888. Via Livrenblog

Recognising that flying over London was contrary to the Royal Aero Club regulations, and yet wishing to get a view of London from above, Capt. Penfold, the Australian aeronaut, decided to make a trip across the metropolis in a balloon. To give a practical side to the trip he arranged with the Sandow Chocolate Co. to disguise himself as Father Christmas and descend at the first suitable point by parachute and distribute samples of Sandow’s chocolate on landing. Through Messrs. Aeros, Ltd., he secured the use of one of Messrs. Spencer Brothers’ balloons of 45,000 cubic feet capacity, which, piloted by Mr. Henry Spencer, and carrying a cinematograph operator, left the gasworks at Battersea at 12.45 p.m. on 23rd ult. Capt. Penfold was seated on the edge of the basket holding the cords of the parachute, which was fastened to the net of the balloon. A 25-mile wind was blowing, necessitating a good deal of manoeuvring before the word to “let go” was given, and after just clearing the gasometer they crossed the Thames at a height of 1,000 ft. At about 1,200 ft. up the only recognisable object was the spire of Westminster Cathedral. The balloon travelled at a height of some 4,000 ft. above the clouds for a long way, and then dropping down through the clouds, the aeronauts found clear country near Chelmsford. At 3,000 ft. Capt. Penfold slid off the basket. He dropped about 500 feet before the parachute opened and the wind swayed him about terrifically. While descending he travelled safely for a distance of about three miles across country and landed safely at Little Baddow, where he distributed the chocolate.

An unseasonal story from Flight magazine, January 4, 1913. The entire archive of this magazine, the first weekly magazine in the world devoted to aviation, starting in 1909, is now online.


Written by Dave Lovely

April 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm