Nahant, MA – September 4, 1907

Nahant, Massachusetts – September 4, 1907


     At 8:30 p.m. on September 4, 1907, Boston aeronaut John J. Maloney, took off in his hot-air balloon from Nahant, Massachusetts, before a cheering crowd.  During night ascensions, Maloney liked to fly his balloon suspended from a trapeze.  On this occasion, as the balloon was rising, a sudden and unexpected foggy mist blew in and enveloped the balloon.  A current of cold air then carried it northwest over Nahant Bay towards Lynn and Swampscott.  The balloon came down in the water between Nahant and Lynn, about two miles off Fisherman’s Beach in Swampscott.  High winds then pulled it back and forth across the water with Maloney holding on for his life for more than an hour. 

     Maloney’s cries for help were finally heard by several fishermen at Swampscott, Massachusetts, a town next to Lynn, and they headed out in their boats to search.   Word was sent to the Nahant Lifesaving Station which also sent a boat.  Maloney was located clinging to the fabric of his half-deflated balloon, cold and exhausted, but alive. 

     Once on shore Maloney related that the balloon had collapsed sooner than he’d expected while drifting in the cold breeze, for he’d expected to be in the air for about an hour. 


     (Woonsocket) Evening Call, “Balloonist Fell Into The Sea”, September 15, 1907, Pg. 7   

     The Lake County Times, (Hammond, Indiana), Evening Edition, September 5, 1907 

     New York Tribune, “Aeronaut Near Death”, September 5, 1907 

     The Washington Herald, “Balloonist Falls Into Sea”, September 5, 1907

Waltham, MA – July 4, 1892

Waltham, Massachusetts – July 4, 1892

     On July 4, 1892, aeronaut Frank P. Shattuck of Malden, Mass., was scheduled to make a balloon ascension from Waltham.  An estimated 10,000 people had gathered for the event.  As the balloon began to rise it was caught by a strong breeze and pushed into some nearby tree tops where the basket was raked through the upper branches before becoming hopelessly entangled in some telephone and telegraph wires that ran near the Park Theatre. 

     The wind continued to buffet the balloon causing it to sway back and forth, at times coming close to the roof of the theatre.  There were some people on the roof who had gone there to watch the ascension that suddenly found themselves in danger of being brushed off by the giant gas-bag.  Shattuck, meanwhile, was trapped in the swaying basket 60 feet above the street.  At one point the basket dipped low enough for those on the roof to grab him as he leaped from the basket. 


    Burlington Weekly Free Press, (Burlington, VT.) “Another Rogers Balloon – Frank Shattuck of Malden Has A Narrow Escape From death”, July 7, 1892

A Novel Balloon Experiment – 1909

A Novel Balloon Experiment – 1909

     The following article appeared in The Bennington Evening Banner, (Bennington, Vermont) on July 28, 1909.  The name of the balloon mentioned is the “Pittsfield”, named for Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

    Pittsfield Aeronaut Uses Novel Experiment To Descend

     “Conway, Mass.  July 28 – Parachuting his balloon, Pittsfield, at a height of over two miles by loosening the appendix cord and allowing the lower part of the balloon to rise into the netting, Dr. S. S. Stowell of Pittsfield, in his first trip as pilot yesterday made a drop to earth.  The experiment was probably the first of its nature ever tried in this country.

     The balloon ascended from Pittsfield at 10:25 o’clock.  The passengers were John T. Manning of that city, and Mrs. Blanche Hutz, a nurse in Bellevue Hospital, New York.  Over Ashland and Buckland the aeronauts struck a vortex, which once before has troubled balloonists, and were swept rapidly upward to over two miles.

     At this height, with but one bag of ballast left, Dr. Stowell conceived the idea of parachuting his balloon and allowing it to take its own course to earth rather then use the valve cord and allow gas to escape.  The appendix cord was loosened and the Pittsfield, resolving itself into a monster toadstool, started slowly earthward.

     The balloon settled over Shelburne Falls and Conway and came to rest without a jolt in a field in Conway at 1 o’clock.”      

     Source: The Bennington Evening Banner, “Pittsfield Aeronaut Uses Novel  Experiment To Descend”, July 28, 1909

Springfield, MA – October 8, 1908

Springfield, Massachusetts – October 8, 1908


    Early balloon with net On October 8, 1908, well known aeronaut, Leo Stevens, was making a balloon ascension at Springfield, Massachusetts, when something went wrong with the safety valve on the gas bag.  Aboard the balloon with Mr. Stevens were Floyd B. Smith, of Yonkers, New York, and Harlan T. Pierpont, of Springfield, Mass.

     As the balloon rose to 1,000 feet Stevens realized that it was becoming over-inflated and was at risk of bursting open.  If it did, the three of them would surly fall to their deaths. 

     With no other choice, Stevens climbed out of the balloon and into the rigging where he managed to tear open the safety valve with his teeth while holding on to the rigging.  

     With disaster averted, the balloon landed safely in the town of Granby, about 12 miles from Springfield.

     For other balloon ascensions involving Mr. Stevens, see “Dalton, MA – July 29, 1908”, and “Near Providence – November 19, 1910” under Aviation Accidents on this website.


     New York Tribune, “Teeth To Open Valve”, October 9, 1908

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲