Incident Gas Balloon #211,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 67620
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Date:Friday 18 October 1918
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Gas Balloon
Owner/operator:United States Army Air Service (USAAS)
Registration: #211
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Riverside, California, -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Riverside, near Arcadia, California
Destination airport:San Pedro, California
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
According to a contemporary newspaper report (see link #1):

Harry J. Van Auben
Carried Up 8,000 Feet but Comes to Earth in Parachute {Monrovia Messenger)

Lieut. Harry J. Van Auken, championship teams Of Uncle Sam's made a great parachute drop from fighting forces in the afternoon, an observation balloon. The balloon had broken away in a high wind, Friday, from the aviation school at Riverside, the Unit is none the less worse for his experience, United States Army Balloon Camp, and' and the gas bag itself is only slightly at San Pedro, and It is damaged.

The accident happened a few minutes before 4 o'clock. The wind took them, and everything will be free of suddenly begun blowing a gale where Civilians will, as before, put upon the camp cannon was fired twice as a danger signal. Following out instructions previously given to cover just such an emergency, men and officers rushed to the balloon fields and began pulling down the balloons. All were brought down safely except the one,whose basket was occupied by Lieut, Van Auken. Its cable broke, when the lieutenant was still 3.000 feet in the air. '

The balloon immediately began to ascend and reached an elevation of approximately 8,000 feet. Pulling the emergency valve caused it to descend. The officer let out more gas than he had intended and the bag began to drop so rapidly that, he came earth with a bump. He was picked up and taken to the camp. This is the second time a balloon, broken away at the camp."

Opened in 1918, the Arcadia Balloon School was built to train U.S. Army balloon observation troops for World War I. Before any graduates arrived in Europe, the war ended. In November 1918, the base was renamed Ross Field, honoring Lt. Cleo J. Ross of the U.S. Army 8th Balloon Company, killed in action in France.

U.S. Army balloon operations continued at Ross Field for a few years, but by the mid-1920s, the base was closed. Today it’s the site of Arcadia County Park and Golf Course.


1. Arcadia Tribune from Arcadia, California October 26, 1918, Page 1

Revision history:

19-Feb-2017 21:44 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-Feb-2017 21:50 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
20-Mar-2022 05:34 Ron Averes Updated [Operator, Location]
10-Mar-2024 12:39 Nepa Updated [Location, Operator]

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