New Britain, CT. – August 18, 1896

New Britain, Connecticut – August 18, 1896


     On the afternoon of August 18, 1896, aeronaut Dan Barnell was scheduled to make a balloon ascension and parachute jump at White Oak Park in New Britain.   As the balloon began to rise, flames suddenly became visible, and began to consume the balloon.  When the balloon reached an altitude of about 100 feet it stopped rising and began to rapidly fall back to earth.  Barnell jumped clear when the balloon was just a few feet from the ground, and his fall was broken by his brother-in-law, Charles Griswold, who managed to grab hold of him as he fell.   Neither Barnell or Griswold were injured but the balloon was damaged beyond repair.  The cause of the fire was not stated.

     The incident was also witnessed by Barnell’s wife.


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “New Britain Affairs – Dan Barnell Drops 100 Feet With His Balloon”, August 19, 1896

New Britain, CT. – April 23, 1911

New Britain, Connecticut – April 23, 1911 

     On April 23, 1911, well known aviator Charles K. Hamilton was at the newly opened aviation field at what had been the “Andrews Tract” located in the “Stanley Quarter” section of New Britain to make a test flight of his newly acquired airplane.  An estimated 10,000 people had arrived that morning to watch the event, for airplanes were still a rarity in 1911.  However, due to unfavorable weather the crowds were forced to wait around most of the day.  Unfortunately, by late afternoon most had gone home before conditions had changed to the point where Hamilton decided to make his flight. 

     The aircraft took off and headed west, rising to an altitude of about 100 feet.  After about a half mile the plane suddenly swerved to one side and went down near a ravine crumpling the wings and trapping Hamilton in the twisted wreckage.  The crowds swarmed over the plane, and after Hamilton was extricated, proceeded to remove “souvenirs”.   

     Hamilton’s injuries were minor. 

     The type of airplane wasn’t specified. 

     As a point of fact, Hamilton is known to have survived at least two other aviation accidents during his career. 

     On September 11, 1901, Hamilton was seriously injured while performing at the Sacramento, (Ca.) Fair Grounds.  On that day, he  raced an automobile around a 1 mile track while flying his 115 h.p. biplane called “The Hamiltonion”.  After making three revolutions during which he outpaced the car, he crashed while attempting to land.     

     On January 9, 1913 Hamilton crashed into a pole while performing at the Ostrich Farm in Jacksonville, Florida. He was not seriously injured, but the plane suffered heavy damage.        


     Hartford Courant, “Hamilton’s New Aeroplane Wrecked”, April 24, 1911

     Omaha Daily Bee, “Aviator Badly Hurt In Fall”, September 11, 1910, pg5. 

     The Ocala Banner, “The Weeks Doings”, January 10, 1913.


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