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October 18, 2018

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Letter: more about the hot air balloon over Bluffton 1905

Note: This letter is in reference to the following story CLICK HERE.

Bluffton Icon:

When I saw the “Hot air balloon over Bluffton - 1905” that was posted on January 2, I wondered if the story was truly “lost in history.” And were early air balloons really potato shaped? Here’s what I found: This airship could be piloted by Augustus Roy Knabenshue, an aviation pioneer born in 1875 in Lancaster, Ohio.

According to The National Aviation Hall of Fame, Knabenshue was an embarrassment to his family and used the name Professor Don Carlo when flying stunts (http://www.nationalaviation.org/our-enshrin…/knabenshue-roy/). Knabenshue later worked for the Wright brothers and and built observation balloons in World War I.

Could this be Knabenshue in the Bluffton photo? According to the hall of fame, "In January 1905, Knabenshue raced [Thomas Scott Baldwin’s] California Arrow against an automobile between Los Angeles and Pasadena, California and won handily. Knabenshue returned to Toledo and began to build dirigibles of his own design. In July 1905 Knabenshue flew his airship Number One from the Lucas County Fairgrounds to the roof of a building in downtown Toledo and returned.”

For more information about Knabenshue, check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._Roy_Knabenshue, http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2013/06/30/Aviation-pioneer-made-histor..., and https://welweb.org/ThenandNow/Knabenshue.html.

Thanks for this curious jumping off point, Fred!

Paula Scott