The balloon, “Pittsfield, in the Heart of the Berkshires,” landed at Walpole, N.H., 70 miles air line from here at 1:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon after a 90-minute flight — one of the fastest on record out of this city.

Mr. Bolza and Mr. McDonald made their first ascension yesterday. The former is a linotype operator for The Eagle and the latter is a salesman for Rice & Kelly. The young men seemed to anticipate with much pleasure their flight and were not in least nervous. Mr. Bolza remarked shortly before starting, “Why that’s no worse than going into a marine drum corps drill. There is nervous excitement in both cases and this is merely another kind.” Both men are members of the corps.

The landing was safely made at Walpole at 1:30 o’clock and it was not necessary to use the rip cord in descending. The whole trip was above the clouds and the aeronauts found it as hot as summer there.

In all his experience in ballooning, Mr. Van Sleet never found the clouds as thick as yesterday. They completely obscured the country over which they were passing. A beautiful sight were the rainbow reflections on the cloud edges.

Striking some electric light wires on the south side of East Street just after starting on its flight yesterday afternoon, the basket of the balloon “Pittsfield, in the Heart of the Berkshires” narrowly missed upsetting and hurling its occupants, William Van Sleet, pilot, and passengers, Emile Bolza and William D. McDonald, to the earth 40 feet below.

The start was made at 12:40 o’clock, but the car did not rise very rapidly because of too much ballast. Pilot Van Sleet made every effort to escape the wires by throwing out four bags of ballast, but was unable to do so. The bag caught in the uppermost wires, tipped in a threatening manner and then freed. Spectators on the balloon field were horrified for a moment, expecting to see the three aeronauts hurled out head foremost to a certain death. The balloon continued northward, soon disappearing in the heavy clouds.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.