Crescent Park, R. I., Balloon Ascension – 1906

Advertisement from 1906
Click on image to enlarge.

News-Democrat
(Providence, R.I.)
August 3, 1906
Click on image to enlarge.

     To read more about Professor J. La Roux, click here. 

 

East Providence, R. I. – August 12, 1906

East Providence, Rhode Island – August 12, 1906

 

Advertisement from 1906
Click on image to enlarge.

    On the afternoon of August 12, 1906, Professor Joseph La Roux and his wife Tina were scheduled to make a balloon ascension and parachute drop at Crescent Park in East Providence.  As the balloon was lifting off, the professor was sitting atop the parachute bar located under the balloon.  When the balloon had reached an altitude of about ten feet the professor’s safety rope broke and he fell to the ground and seriously injured his back.  Meanwhile, Mrs. La Roux stayed with the balloon which reached an altitude of about 2,500 feet.  At that point she jumped, deployed her parachute and landed safely in Bullocks Point Cove. 

     Source:

     The News-Democrat, (Providence, R. I.), “Aeronaut La Roux Fell And Struck On Back”, August 13, 1906       

Lewiston, Maine – September 8, 1908

Lewiston, Maine – September 8, 1908

    On the evening of September 8, 1908, Professor Joseph La Roux was scheduled to demonstrate an airship (the Tiny Davis) before a crowd of 15,000 people at the Maine State Fair.  However, due to a late afternoon drop in air temperature, La Roux, who weighed 172 pounds, was too heavy for the ship, and it was decided that a an assistant, Fred L. Owens of Haverhill, Massachusetts, would take his place.  (Owens only weighed 118 pounds.) 

     It was nearly 6 p.m. when Owens took off in the airship. His intention had been to rise to an altitude of a few hundred feet, start the gasoline powered motor, and make a few turns in the air before landing back at his starting point on the ground.  However, once aloft, the gasoline engine to the airship malfunctioned and failed to reach full power leaving the ship to the mercy of the air currents.  

     Owens sat helplessly as the ship rose to 3,000 feet and drifted in an eastwardly direction.  He tried working the engine but to no avail.  He finally had to pull the rip cord on the bas bag and allow the gas to escape, scraping some tree tops as the ship fell.   The airship came down in the village of Bowdoia Center, 22 miles from its starting point.     

     Sources vary: Owens was born either in 1886 or 1890. He began his aeronautical career around 1903, and became affiliated with Professor La Roux about a year later.  One source says he was from Haverhill, Mass., and another had him living at 58 Harwood St., Boston, Mass. 

     In October of 1905, he’d made a six-parachute jump at Trenton, New Jersey, earning him the championship of the world title.   

     Almost a year after his adventure in Maine, Owens found himself in a similar situation over Baltimore, Maryland.  In this instance thousands watched and followed his progress as his airship was buffeted by strong breezes before finally crash-landing on the roof of a drug store.  He was not injured. 

     Another misadventure occurred in Savannah, Georgia, on November 4, 1909, when he made a forced landing in a railroad yard.   

Sources:

     Daily Kennebec Journal, (Augusta, ME.), “Aeronaut Owen Has Very Narrow Escape”, September 9, 1908.   

     (Woonsocket) Evening Reporter, “Boy Has Wild Ride When Airship Runs Away”, Sept. 9, 1908.      

     Daily Kennebec Journal, (Augusta, ME.), “Owens Tells His Story”, September 10, 1908. 

     The Washington Herald, “Aeronaut Falls To Top Of Store”, August 1, 1909.

     The Birmingham Age Herald, “Wild Adventure of Aviator”,  November 5, 1909

 

 

 

 

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲