Bridgeport, CT. – August 29, 1906

Bridgeport, Connecticut – August 29, 1906


Newark Evening Star & Newark Advertiser
June 10, 1911

     On August 29, 1906, aeronaut Fred L. Owens of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was giving a balloon/parachute performance at the Southport carnival.  His act included a triple parachute drop.  The first chute opened without mishap, and when he cut away from it, the second also opened as it should, but when he attempted to deploy the third chute it failed to open, and he plummeted  1,100 feet into an elm tree.  The tree miraculously broke his fall and saved his life, but he was knocked unconscious from the fall.  Owens was taken to Bridgeport Hospital where doctors were amazed to discover that no bones were broken.   Owens recovered from his ordeal and went on to become a well-known and successful aeronaut.   

     This wasn’t the only close call Mr. Owens experienced.  In August of 1913, while performing before 2,000 people at the University of Florida fairgrounds in Ocala, Florida, Owens fell 100 feet from his balloon and came down in a pine tree.  According to the Ocala Banner, he “arose calmly, lit a cigarette, and declared he was not hurt.”  


     The Old Town Enterprise, (Old Town, Me.), “Aeronaut Takes Tumble”, September 1, 1906, page 2

     Ocala Banner, “Ocala Looses To Gainsville”, August 8, 1913

Claremont, N.H. – October 10 1907

Sullivan County Fair Grounds Near Claremont, New Hampshire – October 10, 1907.

     A balloonist by the name of Professor Bonnette was giving an exhibition at the Sullivan County Fair grounds when his balloon suddenly tore open as he was 200 feet above a crowd of onlookers.  It had been his intention to jump from the balloon with a parachute, but when the accident occurred he hadn’t achieved sufficient altitude.  Bonnette fell from the balloon while it was still 100 feet in the air and landed amidst the crowd.  His back was broken in the fall, and he lapsed into unconsciousness.  He was transported to Claremont Cottage Hospital. 

Source: New York Times, “Aeronaut Falls 100 Feet”, October 11, 1907   

Parachute Accident, Portland, ME., 1909

Portland, Maine – July 4, 1909

Updated June 15, 2017


     As part of a July 4th celebration in Portland, Maine, Professor Joseph Laroux of Portland, and his assistant, James Corcoran, 28, of Lowell, Massachusetts, were scheduled to give an exhibition of a triple parachute jump from a hot-air balloon.  The plan was to have Corcoran ascend in the balloon to an altitude of 6,000 feet while Laroux stayed on the ground.  When the balloon had reached the required safe altitude, the Professor was to fire a series of gun shots as a signal for Corcoran to jump. 

     Shortly after 4 p.m., the balloon took off from the Eastern Promenade before a crowd of 5,000 spectators.  When it had risen barely 500 feet, some members of the crowd began firing revolvers into the air which confused Corcoran into believing it was safe to jump.   Corcoran hit the ground before the first parachute could open receiving fatal injuries. 

     Mr. Corcoran was survived by his wife and a child.


     New York Times, “Parachutist Leaps To Death”, July 6, 1909 

     Hartford Courant,(Conn.) , “Parachute Jumper Falls To His Death”, July 1909

     Sanford Tribune, (Me.), “Aeronaut Is Dashed To Death”, July 9, 1909, page 6.   


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