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August 23, 2017

Dirigible Airship Accident: Rare Snapshot of the Last Flight of Aeronaut Charles O. Jones in Waterville, ME, Sept. 1908

In full view of 25,000 spectators on the Maine fair grounds Charles Oliver Jones, the well known aeronaut, of Hammondsport, N. Y., fell a distance of 500 feet to his death. Among the witnesses of the frightful plunge were Mrs. Jones and her child. They were the first to reach the side of the dying man. The aeronaut expired about an hour and a half after the accident.

Jones had been at the fair grounds with his dirigible balloon, the Boomerang, known as a Strobel airship, since the opening day of the fair.

When the aeronaut reached a height of more than 500 feet the spectators saw small tongues of fire issuing from under the gas bag in front of the motor. At this time the balloon had passed out of the fair grounds. Many persons in the great crowd shouted to Jones of his danger, but several minutes elapsed before he noticed the fire. Then he grasped the rip cord and endeavored to reach the earth. The machine descended but a short distance when a sudden burst of flame enveloped the gas bag, the framework immediately separating from it.

Jones fell with the frame of his motor, and when his wife and child and the spectators reached him he was lying dying under the wrecked machinery a quarter of a mile from the grounds. The gas bag was completely destroyed. It is thought that the bag leaked again and that a spark from the motor caused the disaster.

Jones was forty years old.

(The Cranbury Press New Jersey ~ September 11, 1908)


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