BROOKVILLE — In July 1912, Mr. Warren Rasor and Mr. S. E. Somers began a balloon trip from the Greenville Fair Grounds. Mr. Rasor was Brookville’s famous balloonist.
The balloon was shipped to Greenville on July third and the inflation of it began about 7 o’clock that evening on a vacant lot west of the fairgrounds, near the Brethren Church. Beginning the inflation of the balloon the evening before was necessitated by the low pressure of the gas resulting from being so far from the gas works.
By careful attention throughout the night the large gas bag received its 40,000 cubic feet of gas—its full capacity. By 10 o’clock on Thursday morning, with the aid of a number of men and boys, it was towed to the fair grounds and anchored within the racetrack ready for the voyage, which was scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
After Mr. Rasor had carefully looked after and adjusted all ropes and fastened the necessary amount of ballast, which consisted of five bags of sand, he and Mr. Somers entered the basket, when the balloon was towed to the south side of the track so that it would not be carried against the trees by the wind, which was blowing briskly.
After a safe distance had been reached, the order was given for everyone to let go and the balloon immediately arose, going straight up and piercing a large cloud directly over the fair grounds.
At a height of 1500 feet they entered a cloud which appeared to be about 100 feet in thickness. It consisted of a very fine and light mist, being cool and fresh and made it pleasant to breathe. It was very dense, and one could see but a few feet away. They were in the cloud only a few moments until it began to grow brighter and soon they were in the sunlight and Greenville was hidden from their view.
Up to this time they had been unable to ascertain in what direction they were drifting because they had been busy putting out the 260 feet of drag rope. After getting everything in ship-shape, they were able to settle down and enjoy the view.
They examined the statoscope and found that they were ascending and were at an altitude of about 5000 feet as was shown by the barometer. They sailed along for about six or eight miles and then they began to descend, dropping to about 1000 feet. They were not sure where they were so they used a megaphone to call out to a farmer plowing nearby. The farmer told them that they were about 10 miles from Ft Recovery, which was straight ahead.
After exchanging a few words with the farmer, Mr. Rasor threw the contents of a sandbag overboard, which sent them up to an altitude of about 8000 feet. After reaching the altitude of 8000 feet, they were about a mile above the clouds, and they passed over and near the towns of Woodington, Ansonia, Dawn, Lighstville and others as well as Union City to the west.
At about 5 o’clock they came in sight of Fort Recovery and were then at their highest altitude, probably being over 8000 feet in the air. The barometer had long since reached the recording limit and the statoscope continued to show that they were still ascending.
They then began talking of making a landing at Fort Recovery, having ascertained that they were about four miles from the place by counting the crossroads. They discovered by the instruments that they were descending, the balloon had reached the second strata of clouds. It was becoming cooler, thereby causing a contraction of the gas. They began to descend at a rapid rate. They had only one bag of sand and about one-half gallon of water to assist in the landing.
Preparations were made at once to land. Instruments and other things were stowed under the seats in a safe place and the ballast and anchor was gotten in readiness. Mr. Rasor then began throwing sand out one handful at a time. The descent was so rapid that a large quantity of sand drifted back into the basket.
In a few moments they neared the ground near the pike and a short distance south of a farmhouse. They struck the ground but rebounded into the air and at the same time passed over a telephone line. They called to some carpenters who were working nearby to catch hold of the drag rope and as Mr. Rasor opened the valve, letting out the gas, the bag gradually settled to the ground and their voyage was over. The spot that they landed on was the highest point in northwestern Ohio, if not in the state.
Mr. Rasor at once called Greenville for an automobile to take them back. They made the trip in one and one-half hours and arrived in the time to catch the last car for Brookville.
All information and the photo for this Look at Brookville article were supplied by the Brookville Historical Society. Do you have a photo or historical information to share or add? Please contact the Brookville Historical Society at 937-833-0285 or email to [email protected].