Rutland, VT. – September 6, 1916

Rutland, Vermont – September 6, 1916 

Rutland Fairgrounds

Balloon ascending with parachute attached to the side.

     On the afternoon of September 6, 1916, Samuel A. Libby, 38, was giving a balloon-parachute exhibition at the Rutland Fairgrounds.  Libby’s demonstration involved four parachutes, each to be used in succession of each other, thereby giving a more thrilling performance.  When the hot-air balloon had reached an altitude of 1,500 feet over the fairgrounds he cut away with the four parachutes.  As Libby made his descent, the first three chutes deployed properly, but the fourth failed to open and he was killed.

     His remains were reportedly sent to Oakland, Maine.  It was further mentioned that he was single, and had belonged to the Loyal Order of Moose.

     The day following the accident, a replacement for Libby was found.  18-year-old Freemont Ross of Rutland agreed to jump from the same balloon using a single parachute, which he did successfully.  It was noted that this was his first time in a balloon. 

Update, March 14, 2017

     According to The Bennington Evening Farmer, Mr. Libby was 44-years-old, and was survived by two sisters.  When his parachute failed to open, he reportedly landed on property located on Phillips Avenue.   

     Sources:

     Burlington Weekly Free Press, (Burlington, VT.), “Balloonist Fall; Meets His death At Rutland fair”, September 7, 1916 

     The Bennington Evening Farmer, (Bennington, VT.), “Parachute Jump At Rutland Was Fatal”, September 7, 1916

     The Bennington Evening Banner, (Bennington, VT.), “Boy Makes Balloon Ascent”, September 9, 1916

Rutland, VT – September 7, 1922

Rutland, Vermont – September 7, 1922 

Rutland Fair Grounds

    On September 7, 1922, a “flying circus” was performing at the Rutland Fair Grounds before a crowd of 30,000 spectators when two accidents occurred. 

     The first accident involved an aircraft piloted by Lieutenant Belvin W. Maynard, (29), a.k.a. “The Flying Parson”.  At about 1 p.m. Maynard and two others, identified as Lt. L. R. Wood, and Charles Mionette, took off in an Arvo 504 bi-plane to perform a series of aerial stunts for the entertainment of the fair goers.  The men were familiar with the routine which they had been performing all week.   The accident occurred while Maynard was performing a tail spin from an altitude of 2,000 feet.   Evidently he was unable to pull out of the spin, and the aircraft plunged nose first into a cornfield at the edge of the fair grounds killing all three men.

     Lt. Maynard was a veteran of World War I, but prior to the war he had studied to be a Baptist minister.  He was a frequent speaker in churches, and had been scheduled to give a talk at the Rutland Baptist Church later in the day.  He had also performed at least one marriage while flying his airplane over Times Square in New York, hence the nick name, “Flying Parson”.

     To see a photo and more info about Lt. Maynard, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/82911271/belvin-womble-maynard

     The second accident at the fair occurred later that same day.  A 43-year-old aeronaut named Smith had been giving parachute exhibitions by jumping from his balloon.  After two successful jumps that afternoon, Smith did a third, but his parachute failed to open and he was killed.

     Smith had been doing parachute jumps for the previous ten years.  In 1920, (Exact date not known.)  Smith was severely injured during one of his jumps in Lynn, Massachusetts. 

Source: New York Times, “Flying Parson Dies, 3 Other Air Men Killed During Fair.”  

Update: October 7, 2016

     Smith’s full name was Henry A. (Daredevil) Smith of Boston, Massachusetts.  He jumped from 3,500 feet and his parachute opened slightly, then closed, and failed to re-open.  He hit the ground about 100 yards east of the Main Street fence of the fairgrounds. 

     In the accident at Lynn, Mass., he was to jump from an airplane, but the pilot lost control and crashed.  Smith fell 800 feet and lived, but the pilot was killed.

     Source: Barre Daily Times, “”Maynard Body On Way Home” – “Another Shock For crowd”, September 8, 1922, page 1

     Update March 20, 2022

     According to an article in the New York Tribune, the men killed in the aircraft accident were identified as Louis Beyette of New York City, not Charles Mionette, and Norman Wood of Chicago, not L. R. Wood.  It is unknown which is correct.

     The same article also mentions a farmer identified as E. C. Ryder as being critically injured after being struck by an object projecting from a passing truck. 

     Source: New York Tribune, “Flying Parson One Of 4 Killed In 2 Crashes At Vermont Fair.”, September 8, 1922, pg. 1

     Still another newspaper, the New York Herald, identified the men killed with Lt. Maynard as being Major Charles Wood of Ticonderoga, N.Y., and Louis Beyette of Plattsburg, N. Y. 

     Source: New York Herald, “Flying parson Dies With Two Air Aids In Nose Dive Crash”, September 8, 1922.  

     Updated March 23, 2022 

     According to a newspaper article which appeared in The Lake Placid News on September 15, 1922, the two men who perished with Lt. Maynard were identified as Major Charles Wood and Louis Walter Beyette.  That article stated that the trio had taken off for a sightseeing flight over Killington Peak which is a few miles east of the Rutland Fairgrounds.  It was during the return trip that the engine failed and the plane crashed in Dyer Woods near the Rutland Fairgrounds. 

     Source: The Lake Placid News, “Ticonderoga Ace Killed In Fall”, September 15, 1922, page 9.  

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲