20th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett - Basel (SUI) 1932

1932 Gordon Bennett Results

Start: Basel, September 25th.        

From the Book: Die Gordon Bennett Ballon Rennen
(The Gordon Bennett Races) by Ulrich Hohmann Sr

Economy recovers very slowly from its heavy crisis in July 1931. In Germany still 5.260.000 unemployed are counted in August 1932. But it is also the time of records and big success in sports. The biggest flying boat of the world, DO-X, with space for 100 passengers on three decks had made a flight to New York (with intermediate landings) already on August 1931, now it is on a trip round the world. American Amelia Earhart-Putnam was the first person to cross the Atlantic twice in a plane. After a flight in 1928 she manages the tour Newfoundland – Ireland in 13 hours and 55 minutes on May 21st, 1932. English Amy Johnson flew London - Capetown in 4 days and 6 hours, beating the record held by her husband for almost 10 hours. Car racing and professional boxing were sporting events of much interest. In car racing, Brauchitsch on Mercedes and Caracciola on Alfa Romeo fought on the racing courses, in boxing Schmeling, Sharkey and Mickey Walker fought for qualification to the world-championship in heavyweight.

One month before the start of the Gordon Bennett Race the 10th Olympic games had finished in Los Angeles. The athletes from the US had won 44 gold, 36 silver and 30 bronze medals there.

Eight nations had nominated balloons, for the first time two crews from Poland were present. (In 1923 they had withdrawn their nomination before launch). Poland was the country, to which the trip should go and they would play an important role in future races. But we are not so far yet. In the town on the river Rhine 16 balloons are prepared for flight on this Sunday. Favourites prior to launch: American and 3 times Gordon Bennett winner Ward T. van Orman as well as 4 times-winner Ernest Demuyter. The German participants are full of hope; Ferdinand Eimermacher, Erich Leimkugel, Otto Bertram and Alexander Dahl are already experienced veterans, which is even truer for French Ravaine and Blanchet. Switzerland sent young people to the race. With the exception of Gerber, who had taken part once 20 years ago, all the others are there for the first time. Also Austria had returned again to the circle of participating nations. It was the first (and only) participation at the races between the two wars. Baron von Effhofen had chosen Franz Mannsbarth as co-pilot, a very well known officer in Austria. As first lieutenant, he had built together with engineer Hans-Otto Stagl the "Stagl-Mannsbarth-Airship" shortly after the First World War. 91 meters long, powered by two diesel engines of 150 h.p. each, working on four propellers being capable to carry 30 passengers, it was the biggest airship of the world in those days. But financing created difficulties and military in Austria showed no interest for the ship, so the builders had no choice but to sell their ship in a public auction. Mannsbarth however kept close with ballooning, how close is shown by the fact that his wife Hedwig became the second female balloon pilot in Austria in 1929. (Nr. 1 was Josefine Hinterstoisser in 1911.

About the race itself, two pilots should report, who were involved in the race only in the second row. First of all, there is the very well known meteorologist and pilot of these days, Dr. P. Perlewitz. Before launch, he made the following forecast:

"The weather for inflation will be good from the early morning on, light winds, cloudy sky after some rain showers, but mostly bright. Wind direction on the north slope of the Alps in the average from south to north, particularly south easterly or south westerly.

The main weather situation is influenced by a strong storm depression with its centre in Scotland and a trough to East Germany. The backside of this trough has brought thunderstorms and heavy winds to north Germany in the previous night. This is the weather situation north of the launch place Basel. To the south there is a flat high above the Alps and Italy, with its centre over Sardinia.

During inflation over the day, the main weather situation has not changed, only the depression above Scotland has filled up a little bit, so that the wind speed will slowly reduce everywhere. The trough to the Baltic Sea has moved a little further to the east. Winds in north and middle-Germany are fresh to strong, in south and southwest Germany low.

Winds in the altitude are strong almost everywhere, so balloons, who can make it to the middle of Germany, may count on a speed of 80 kilometres an hour. But it is questionable, if the balloons can manage to reach the area of the "Fichtelgebirge" by flying low at the beginning. Most of the balloons will probably fly across Bavaria, where they will particularly meet no wind, then fly to Austria or Czechoslovakia. They will then still have the opportunity to make a big bend north easterly to Poland or Russia. Other balloons, which can manage to reach Saxony or Northern Bohemia, may fly on quickly to the countries on the Baltic Sea, Northwest Russia or even Finland.

This is the answer to the main question of the inexperienced: "Where do the balloons fly?" The correct question would be: "Which altitude is flown by the pilots, to gain the best direction to cover the longest distance?" At first of course, they cross the lowest layer, bringing them to the north or north east, which means, to the Rhine valley. From there the decision for the victory will occur.

The participants were told before launch and will find it proved during their flight, that in higher altitudes they will meet stronger winds from the south west and west, while in lower layers there is a weaker streaming from the south west.

With the streaming in the higher altitudes, the balloons will proceed faster, which appears to be an advantage, but they also get away more and more from the storm depression over Northwest Europe and so may fly too far to the East into no winds over Austria or Czechoslovakia. The balloons that fly lower, precede slower first, but approach the depression in the North and may count on increasing wind speed later and a quick flight across Germany.

But they must also avoid flying too low, to loose time and then miss the depression. We see, that meteorological as well as tactical calculations are not quite easy".

The Americans studied these forecasts best. Last not least their knowledge of meteorology was one of the roots of their victories in the previous races. Before every race, they had watched the weather conditions for a long time, researched and analysed them. This gave them their hope to win.

But I don’t want to leap ahead of the events. The balloon commission of the German airmen association had sent its member and president of the balloon department of the "Osnabrücker Verein für Luftschiffahrt", pilot Bernard Brickwedde to Basel. Brickwedde, a friend of Ferdinand Eimermacher, wrote three reports for aeronautic journals: From the events before the start, the start itself and after the race.

A walk between 17 balloons
Basel, a sea of flags! – Every balloon has its own post box
The Gordon Bennett-Party! All turn up in tails, except...?

The whole town of Basel is under the rule of the Gordon Bennett Race. Even the weather fits to this great event. Bright sun. Wherever we look, wherever we listen: "Gordon Bennett". Soon we get the impression, that everything is organised perfect. We visit the championship office, which stands in enormous activity. Every balloon has its own post box, containing frequent news from the championship directory. – Large maps present the actual weather. The prospects are vividly discussed and judged from different views. By these discussions, it shows, that optimists find a lot of little doors to hope even at marginal weather conditions, hoping for a south west-wind, leading them to the north east, to Silesia, Poland, Russia. A telegram, which just came in, tells, that Russia had again refused the request for entering their airspace. This is a big pity, for the weather situation promises a long flight. So it may happen very easy, that the frontiers are crossed unintentionally. This creates a discussion, for to the rules, this would lead to disqualification of the pilot. This is also a disadvantage for the military pilots, who have strictly to obey the prohibition to enter Russia. Very pleasant is an announcement of the German "Reichspostminister", that the German radio will broadcast on frequency 183,5 (1634,9 m) weather reports and 15 to 20 minutes disk music to allow the pilots to take a bearing every hour between 1 and 5.30 a.m. in the nights of 25th to 26th and 26th to 27th. This friendly agreement was joined by the Polish radio, which will broadcast its news in three languages: Polish, German and French.

There is a permanent coming and going in this championship office. Languages of all nations fill the room, well translated by a young Swiss girl. We drop our regards at the post box of our German pilots and leave for the launch field. The streets are crowded. A lot of participants of an international converging really add to the traffic. Foreign road signs create traffic jams, some dented bumpers, but it all unravels in a fabulously calmness. Almost all shop windows present their advertising with balloons. From the worst taste to perfect art of advertising our dear old balloon is used. All the taxis are adorned with it; they had cut it out of the official poster and put it to their windscreens.

The launch field shows a colourful image. Hundreds of flags with the colours of the participating nations fly in the strong wind. Big wind readers, mounted to the gas tanks to be seen from the distance, indicate a wind from east southeast on the ground, while in the altitude the clouds pass with a quick southwest. Much life also here! A good organisation, everything is prepared for the visit of the crowds. I look for the pilots, nobody knows, where they did hide. The spectators, already on the field, are very interested. The newspapers had brought long articles about Gordon Bennett and the balloon. Whole pages with a lot of pictures tell of the balloon. Also pictures of all the pilots are shown in the papers. We can see, how the spectators look to these pictures with interest and compare them with everybody who looks like an airman. There is a lot of air traffic above the town. Passenger planes for circuits allowing a bird-eyes view of the Gordon Bennett town and the launch field. Also the plane of the Europe Air Rally, the Klemm of the successful Swiss participant Fretz from Zurich and a Heinkel He 64, flown here from Berlin by Junck are presented. It is time, to get prepared for the welcome party, where evening dress is required. It is a banquet offered by the government, foreign guests may bring their wives with them, as it was told on the notice board, while the Swiss ladies don’t take part. They are expected first at the following big Gordon Bennett party.

A tall, fair-haired Swiss lady holds the prologue, welcomes the president of the federal republic of Switzerland, the honorary citizens of the town, representatives of the university and last not least the pilots, who came from the north, south, east and west, even across the Atlantic. These "romantic knights ", who still use gas, wind and sand to perform their sport in a time of motorization. Standing the Swiss national anthem is sung. Then follows the overture to "The Bat" and a perfect performance of the second act of this operetta. While about 4000 people move around at this big party, I search for our German pilots. It is not easy, to search and recognise people within this colourful group of moving uniforms, tails and evening dresses. In four big, tastefully decorated ballrooms the people dance to the lively music of four first class bands. One ballroom is totally decorated with aviation items. A big glider hangs from the roof, the walls are decorated with pictures showing events in aviation. Piccard, who had promised to be present, had to withdraw because of a bereavement. But other prominent people from aviation can be seen. We’d like to talk with the pilots about the previous flight, but time is short and this hurly-burly is not the right place for it. I look for Ferdinand Eimermacher, he shall tell me more. I go to the hotel, to ask where he is or to wait for his return. They tell me a little beer bar and right, there he is, Ferdinand Eimermacher. Lucky and satisfied he sits there with meteorological maps and a beer and thinks about the previous flight. A party in tails and evening dress is not his case; he sits there in his leather suit, as he left Münster. The present, rare weather situation allows a lot of opportunities, which may lead to a great flight, if used well and if rain doesn’t put and early end to it. We have one or two nice and undisturbed hours here in this little restaurant.

We discuss the question of crossing the Russian border and the prohibition of the Soviet Union. The competition officials had left it to the decision of the pilots, to take the risk of crossing the border of the Soviet-Republic with good luck and without permission. The Americans will make every effort, to take the cup, they had already won twice in a row, home finally. They, for example, had made an agreement with the radio station on the Eiffel-tower, to give them special weather reports in a secret language.

The Swiss crew of the balloon ZURICH carries parachutes with them, to jump from the balloon in case of a thunderstorm, they could not get out of way. They had remembered the fate of the Swiss balloon, which was hit by a flash of lightening at the Gordon Bennett race from Brussels in 1923, which killed the crew. Also the crew of a second balloon was killed by a flash of lightening at this event. We also learn, that the crew wants to extend the flight by the parachuting of one crew member when running out of ballast. But this was prevented by the rule, that after landing the crew has to be present completely.

Because normally on the second days very high altitudes are reached (6000 meters and more), all the crews carry oxygen with them, either in small steel bottles or balloons of fabric or rubber which they fix to the side of the gondola. The pilots are ordered, to dump cards and telegrams on Monday prior to their landing, to tell their position.

Finally, I have to praise the arrangements for inflation and launch. Every balloon has got its own box for storage. During inflation, the balloons are closed off by ropes, the launch field, opposite of the stands is separated from the spectators by a solid fence. The take off is well visited, but it could have been better. Rain showers at noon have kept spectators away. I want to mention, that the balloon mail, carried by a Swiss balloon, which shall be sent from the landing place, contains 1500 letters by noon.

Basel, September 24th., 1932

How the balloons left Basel

Clear blue sky above Basel, when I look out of the window of my hotel room at 7 a.m. We did not have much sleep, we had used the situation to talk to the Swiss pilots, with other foreign friends, so time went by. Still today we remember with happiness, how the Swiss pilots of the balloon HELVETIA had carried the old fame of Swiss bravery out to the little developed airspace by their victory at the third Gordon Bennett Race from Berlin in 1908. Regards and best wishes from the federal council are present also at this year’s event. By the Gordon Bennett Race, Basel has become the scene for a wonderful and great international event. Already in the early morning strong car traffic from out of town started, for a converging rally to Basel had been added to the program.

At 9 a.m. the balloons are ready for inflation. The gas conditions are perfect, for the gas factory, put to service in August 1931 is extremely powerful. The gas for 17 balloons, about 37.400 cubic meters, is produced in horizontal chamber ovens of a very modern coking plant. Adequate measures in the process of the de-gassing keep the weight of the gas very low. The specific weight of the lifting gas, normally around 0,42 to 0,44 compared to air = 1, is today at just 0,38, so the balloons can carry lot of ballast with them.

Balloon DEUTSCHLAND leaves with 53 bags of ballast, while the more heavy balloons get only 35 bags. (Balloon STADT ESSEN, flown by Eimermacher, gets only 32 bags). The gas tank contains 50.000 cubic meters, so every balloon gets equal gas from the storage. The inflation tubes are connected to a ring pipeline of 200 millimetres diameter. In every tube, a fan is installed to pressurise the gas in the pipe up to 300 millimetres head of water. The power of these fans is at 10.000 cubic meters an hour, so the whole inflation may be done within three hours.

The field for inflation is well organised. Mail and telegraph office are there in a sufficient amount. The post office is crowded already in the early morning. Balloon BASEL will carry the mail, this attracts collectors. All the announcements as well as the information for pilots, the press, volunteers’ a.s.o. are done by large loudspeakers from the TELEFUNKEN company, erected on eight poles. Also, all the inflation spots of the balloons are connected to the technical management by field telephones. Grandstands with 21.600 seats are on the north side of the field. Because from there you look towards the sun, they are little occupied. Also the spectators don’t have the calmness, to stay there doing nothing. So much can be seen, discussed and heard, that they are always on the move. Peacefully, the 17 balls lay side by side. STADT ESSEN, BARMEN and DEUTSCHLAND lay close together, right in front of the stand for the honourable spectators. Compared to the brand new DEUTSCHLAND and the quite well BARMEN, STADT ESSEN gives a bad impression. We can’t understand, why the much better balloon ERNST BRANDENBURG was hired to the aero club of Austria. Unfortunately, it is not just the appearance, STADT ESSEN is also weak from age. Many helping hands have sealed it again on the Loddenheide in Münster in several weeks of work. I remember the words of Eimermacher: "Everybody, who knows me, also knows that I’m not representative in my sports dress. But the balloon STADT ESSEN is still less representative than me. I feel, as if I would stand in front of my balloon in tails, so shabby and repaired it looks".

The best impression is made by the Swiss balloons, especially by the new ZURICH, a nettles balloon constructed after the balloon DEUTSCHLAND. Also Poland starts with new balloons, one of them is coated with metal, the only one out of all. America and France showed up again with their lightweight silk balloons. U.S.NAVY drops out for unknown reasons.

Slowly the balloons, appearing in the different shades of their yellow envelopes, are filled. From the command tower, the technical management orders, by loudspeaker, to fill quicker or slower, and calls the volunteers, who become lazy at this calm ground wind, back to service. So the large audience participates with all that happens. At 11 a.m. a press conference is held in the media tent, visited by about 150 reporters, cameramen drive across the field in their cars, photographers try to catch the best photos, autograph hunters are at work and disturb the patient pilots. Some ignorant people later detect to their annoyance, that they did not get the signature of the pilot but of the balloonmeister as souvenir.

At 2 p.m. pilots gather for briefing. Barographs are sealed, the newest weather reports are handed out. – It becomes more and more busy on the launch field. Meanwhile, a rain shower had made the balloons wet, but the sun is already drying them for lift-off.

At 3.30 p.m. the lift-off of the smallest balloon in the world, of only 170 cubic meters (compared to 2.200 cubic meters of the competition-balloons) is scheduled. It is not ball-shaped but more cylindrical. The small, light basket barely reaches up to the hips of its pilot, Charles Dollfus from Paris. With two bags of ballast the balloon starts under the cheers of the applauding spectators, to serve as a guide for the racing balloons. While at morning the wind came still from the south west, this balloon now flies with a pure south wind. But wind can change speed and direction very easily. So we can’t talk about presumed landing places.

The program is always on time. We acknowledge the perfect organisation and the discipline in the performance. One balloon after the other prepares for launch. At first DEUTSCHLAND comes to the platform in front of the grandstands, with Erich Leimkugel and Richard Schütze in the basket. 53 bags of ballast are already there, but still the balloon has lifting power. A bunch of flowers is handed over. Exactly at 4 p.m. DEUTSCHLAND lifts under the sound of the national anthem and the vivid applause of thousands and thousands of spectators. Slowly it moves northwards in 100 meters altitude, still climbing. The loudspeakers announce the names of the balloons and crews prior to every start, and the flag of their nation is raised on the flagpole. As second, L'AVENTURE (France) starts with Marius Marquant and Maurice de Brucker. After inflation, they had to seal a slit, they suddenly discovered, and had requested their competitors for glue by the loudspeakers, otherwise they could not be able to fly. As third, POLONIA (Poland) appears, the only balloon with metallic coating.

On the launch-field among other prominent people the well know aviator Mittelholzer had come. Cameramen are busy, getting everything on their film. Ground wind has become completely calm now, so launch can be performed smooth and quiet. At stronger winds, it would have been impossible to carry the balloons to the crowded platform. But now everything works in perfect condition. Fourth balloon is BELGICA under most often Gordon Bennett winner Ernest Demuyter, who is welcomed with enthusiastic applause when carried to the platform. When opening the appendix, it shows, that the rip out line is not clear. His co-pilot mounts to the load-ring and clears up the ropes. Under frenetic applause Demuyter lifts off, he again seems to be in perfect condition. An enormous reduction of weight is the transportation of oxygen in some rubber balloons, fixed to the net, while our balloons have to carry compressed oxygen in heavy steel-bottles. In general, the equipment of the other nations is first class compared to our material.

A triple engine motor plane circles over the launch -field to film the balloons from above. It flies close circles, follows the balloons, and is back to the field for the next take-off. Spain approaches the platform with the balloon 14de AVRIL flown by Capt. Antonio Nenez, followed by France with the balloon PETIT MOUSSE flown by Georges Ravaine and Rene de Grain. With great enthusiasm balloon ZURICH is now pulled to the platform. Balloon and basket appear in perfect condition. The fittings of the basket and the storage of the radio bearing equipment, the oxygen supply, the map table a.s.o. are exemplary. As the Americans, also the Swiss baskets have inflated rubber hoses at the front and the under side to make the basket floatable and to absorb the shock of a hard landing. Balloon ZURICH was build this year and is a present of the AUSTRIA cigarette -company, which also brought out a special cigarette for the Gordon Bennett day. Under the bright delight of the spectators, ZURICH starts. Now the two German balloons follow, BARMEN flown by Otto Bertram and Alexander Dahl and STADT ESSEN flown by Ferdinand Eimermacher and Dr.Kaulen jr. Each basket gets a big bunch of flowers. With big applause, the balloons lift up.

Meanwhile, ground wind has turned to the north west, so all the balloons now fly off to the opposite direction and cross the field again at about 100 meters of altitude. Unfortunately, the Spanish balloon has to dump some ballast exactly over the field, but with laughing the spectators span their umbrellas on which the fine sand drums.

Eimermacher leaves with about 32 bags of ballast, but not out of courage, even if the material of the balloon is bad, the most important factor for victory still is the personal quality of the pilot.

At the 10th position, Swiss balloon VICTOR DE BEAUCLAIR, flown by Col. Huber, leaves a little bit too heavy and has to drop the content of a whole bag of sand from one meter on the head of an officer. At the 11th position comes U.S.ARMY flown by Lt. Settle, vividly welcomed by his American friends. It follows the most feared van Orman with the silk balloon GOODYEAR VIII, also in a very good shape. Van Orman is prepared for everything, a big zodiac is stored at the load ring, which may become a big help for him at the present wind direction. His basket is also made floatable. As well as former winner Demuyter, van Orman is also acclaimed very much. It follows BASEL flown by Dr. A. van Baerle and Dr. E. Dietschi, the president of the organising team, ERNST BRANDENBURG for the Aero-Club of Austria with Dr. E. von Etthofen. LAFAYETTE announces, it can’t start right now because of a damage to its net and would need a rope maker, so Polish GDYNIA flown by Franciszek Hynek starts first.

Launch ran smooth with no accident. Every four minutes a balloon could take off. Also LAFAYETTE is soon ready and leaves at last. Launch had taken only one hour and eight minutes, a very good performance on this small field.

Basel (Sunday), September 25th, 1932

America - finally winner of the Gordon Bennett-Trophy
Eimermacher (Münster) best German

The Gordon Bennett Race is finished! Surprisingly quick the first landing reports came in, telling of the early landing of the German favourite, the only German racing balloon DEUTSCHLAND, while a big part of the other balloons were not heard from for long time. They had landed first after 30 – 40 hours of flight and more than double of the distance ahead of the Russian border.

We don’t want to discuss or carp why balloon DEUTSCHLAND landed so soon. Due to the flight report, its pilot, Erich Leimkugel from Essen, had expected fast wind speeds in high altitudes. Fighting heavy cumulus clouds which again and again took the sun from him, he sacrificed all his ballast and had to admit after his early landing, that his strategy of flying high up to 7000 meters had not meet his exceptions. Higher speeds had been in lower layers around 2000 to 3000 meters, as was proven by the tracks of the winning balloons. Anyhow, the weather condition were not at their best. There were a lot of disturbances in the atmosphere from Spain up to Poland, which brought, after a short clearing up, mostly heavy clouds, rain showers, snowfall and local thunderstorms. This weather condition required the highest efforts from the performance of the pilots and demanded good knowledge and experience in meteorology. The clear victory of the Americans has of course its main reasons in their perfect light weight material, but also proves, that they, with good training, could deal well with unknown meteorological situations. Normally, we search the reason for the superiority of the Americans at Gordon Bennett Races in their home country not only in the better material but also in their better knowledge of the meteorological situation there. They have demonstrated, that they are also at home in non-American air.

Remembering the impressions, we got on the launch field at Basel, it is correct, that the image, a balloon gives, is often connected with its performance. I don’t talk of POLONIA, which appeared in a bright silver colour or little French MOUSSE, which attracted the love of numerous ladies with its red stripes on the lower part of the envelope and which could have won the title "Miss Gordon Bennett" at a beauty contest, but the range of yellow colours on the envelopes, telling more or less their whole story of life, showed us, what we could expect. Most of them, unfortunately not the German STADT ESSEN and BARMEN, have been without a single patch, totally new, like the clothing of the ladies at the brilliant party the night before. Ferdinand Eimermacher was quite right, when he stood in front of his balloon in his old, proved suit and his famous cap, which had survived all his flights and said: "I feel as I’d wear tails and cylinder".

DEUTSCHLAND and ZURICH, both build by Riedinger in Augsburg, showed up nettles and so saved a lot of weight for worthy ballast. The two big favourites, having won the Gordon Bennett Race several times, Belgian Demuyter and the American van Orman, have both kept the old net system, but used other new technical features. The expected success, we had put into the nettles balloons, was not achieved. At this place, we also have to add, that being nettles has no influence on the climbing speed, as it was written by a newspaper from Cologne, or creates a higher cruising speed, as it was told by a paper from Essen. The climbing speed of a balloon however is only a question of the loss of weight and reaching a fast layer of wind is just the knowledge of the pilot. Here it proves, if the meteorological skill and the experience of the pilot are sufficient to keep the best altitudes for his flight.

A pilot could really loose his courage, seeing how unequal the weapons for this fight were. So the performance of Eimermacher must be counted double, even having the worst material to his disposal, he was not depressed and flew his balloon through all difficulties with tough stamina and a want for victory to the seventh place. When I said in my report from the launch of the balloons, that the victory does not only depend on the material, but first of all on the quality of the pilot, this was again proved by Eimermacher. We can take a glance to the difficulties, he had to face, by his report:

Soon after launch, he had climbed from 500 meters to 2000 meters, to keep up the speed with a bank of cloud, leading him across the Black Forest at a speed of 75 kilometres an hour. By doing this, he escaped this weather. When darkness came, he slipped along the Bodensee and soon after he saw the brightly illuminated town of Augsburg below him. Another thunderstorm came up, clattering rain and snowfall did cost a lot of ballast. He managed, to keep the altitude between 2000 and 2500 meters, going ahead with the best speed. It started freezing, the wet sand in the bags became useless. At the Bohemian Forest he was lifted to 3500 meters by the upstream and was totally in clouds. Very soon it cleared up again, but strong lightening accompanied the flight. At morning, a little after 5 a.m. they crossed Prague with a speed of about 80 kilometres an hour, at daybreak the shadows of the Riesengebirge stood ahead of them. Already 20 of 32 bags of ballast had been used up during the night. Worthy food and the mountain equipment, taken with them for a landing in the Alps, were dumped as ballast at the next fall, to keep the balloon in this beneficial layer of winds. Oppeln was crossed. The sunbeams pulled the balloon up slowly, finally allowing to save ballast. Even if they met less wind speed in the higher altitude, they now had to stay as long as possible high above the clouds to get out of the way of new thunderstorms. New cumulus clouds lifted the balloon up to 6000 meters, until at 11 a.m. the clouds reached to an altitude, the balloon could not reach. Another wall of clouds forced the balloon, with only three bags of ballast left, to land. In a quick decent which could no longer be reduced by the dump of ballast (Eimermacher talks of 6 meters per second) the balloon fell to the earth through the unbroken clouds. Lot of concentration and a big tension of nerves were needed, to reduce the fall close to the ground and land safely. Eimermacher did it in a masterly manner. At 300 meters, the last emergency ballast, the oxygen bottle, went overboard. STADT ESSEN landed safe at Lodz.

In 19 hours of flight Eimermacher has covered 1053 kilometres, while the winner, the American Settle, flew 1536 kilometres in 41 hours. This makes an average speed for Eimermacher of 55 km/h and of 37 km/h for the American. If Eimermacher had the additional ballast, the lighter balloons had, he would be on a top position for sure, because by using the faster layers he was well ahead of his rivals, who flew across his landing spot not less that two hours after his landing. Eimermacher and his co-pilot Dr. Kaulen jr. had performed extremely well, considering the circumstances, under which they entered the race. Almost all the other balloons landed on Monday, PETIT MOUSSEE (France), 14.AVRIL (Spain), GDYNIA (Poland), BELGICA (Demuyter-Belgium) and STADT ESSEN (Eimermacher-Germany) came the furthest. Only the two American teams GOODYEAR VIII (van Orman) and U.S.ARMY (Settle) flew through the second night and landed Tuesday around 10 a.m. in the area of Kowno and Wilna. That they managed to miss the Russian border is very welcome for an easy calculation of the results. Interesting is the landing of the balloon GDYNIA in the middle of the city of Warzaw on an island of the river Weichsel. It is a big rarity that a balloon lands in his home harbour after 1300 kilometres of flight. We can understand, that this landing at Warzaw was a real sensation. Eimermacher talked very well about the warm welcome by the population at the landing and the reception by the officials and the Polish aero club. They got a welcome as sporting friends there. Eimermacher was right, when he told in a radio-interview: "Really, the balloon, floating free across the country and borderlines may better be used than an airplane, to scatter the differences among peoples".

I have to add something to the previous report of Bernard Brickwedde: It was written before the final results came out. Eimermacher did not reach rank 7 but 9, the distance he covered was not 1053 but 1005 Kilometres. (American Settle reached 1550, not 1536 kilometres). Van Orman/Blair stood in the air longer than all the others, landed after nightfall but reached 200 kilometres less than their fellow citizens. But these differences do not minimise the correctness of the other statements.

Some more words about two other teams: Swiss von Baerle and Dietschi stood almost all the time in an altitude of 20.000 feet. There they had sun, but temperatures reached not more than minus 9 degrees Celsius. They suffered from lack of oxygen, had headache and felt weak.

What happened to Demuyter? – He was not in his best condition at this race. In our modern language: He had a mental problem. His balloon was still a little old, that’s right, but leaking, as he stated after the race, it was surely not. He could not have stayed in the air for 21 hours with a leaking balloon. 965 kilometres he covered, only good enough for rank 10.

The Americans had finally won the third Gordon Bennett Cup! Only four years after winning the second cup. No other nation had interrupted their series of victories. The superiority of the material and the teams was depressing. For the material, the Goodyear company was responsible, their engineers were always working on making the balloons still lighter. For the teams the US forces were responsible. Their young officers could face heavy strain with ease.

Finally, there is a message from the newspaper "Baseler Nachrichten" of October 31st, 1932, which they got from "United Press": 'The balloon races for the Gordon Bennett Cup, finally won by the United States for the second time this year, shall not stop but continue in 1933 thanks to a new donation. The Federation Aéronautique International has already been offered new cups from various sponsors to replace the Gordon Bennett Cup. Out of these offers, the Federation will probably choose the cup offered by the American Clifford Harmon, president of the international airmen association. Harmon has connected his offer with the condition, that this cup and the international balloon races for the cup will further on keep the name of Gordon Bennett. Harmon himself had taken part in six nomination races for the Gordon Bennett Race. He still holds the American ballooning records for duration (48 hours 26 minutes) and altitude (8000 meters). Both records he set up in the year 1909.'

(The F.A.I. later decided to take a cup from the newspaper "New York Herald Tribune", Clifford Harmon's cup was accepted as highest award for pilots in general and was given in 1935 also to the German pilots Götze and Lohmann.)

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Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

The Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett is the most prestigious event in aviation and the ultimate challenge for the balloon pilots and their equipment.