ALAN RAMSAY HAWLEY
1869-1938
 
 
Alan R. Hawley
Alan R. Hawley
 
 
ALAN R. HAWLEY
Collection of Costyn van Dongen
AUGUSTUS POST &
ALAN HAWLEY
Collection of Costyn van Dongen
 
 
Alan R. Hawley
 
  Missouri Historical Society  
 
The start of the 1907 Gordon Bennett International Balloon Race
 
 
INTERNATIONAL AERONAUTIC TOURNAMENT, 1907
     In 1907, St. Louis was host to the James Gordon Bennett International Aeronautic Club Race, the "first ever held in the United States." The Trophy, plus a cash prize of $2,500, had been donated in 1906 by James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald Tribune, for an annual international long distance balloon race to be conducted by the International Aeronautic Federation.
     The cup itself was of solid silver, 19 1/2 inches high and 31 1/2 inches long. It had been executed by the House of Andre Aucoc of Paris and was valued at $2,500.
     The first International Balloon Race was started from Paris on September 30, 1906. It was won by Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm of the United States, who bested fifteen other entrants from six other nations by traveling 402.40 miles to Flying Dales, England. His victory gave the Aero Club of America the right to hold the Gordon Bennett Cup until the next competition and it gave the United States the right to be the seat of the international race for 1907.
     In commemoration of Lieutenant Lahm's triumph, the Aero Club of America instituted the Lahm Aeronautic Cup contest for a $1,500 silver trophy made by Black, Starr, and Frost of New York. The competition was open to all licensed balloonists of every nation, but all trials for the cup had to begin in the United States and all contenders had to belong to the Aero Club of America.
     To win the cup, the entrant had to exceed the distance Lieutenant Lahm himself had traveled in winning the first International Balloon Race in 1906 -- 402.40 miles.
     The second American entry was the 77,000-cubic-foot St. Louis, flown by Alan R. Hawley, 38, who had made nineteen flights. He was aided by Augustus Post, secretary of the Aero Club of America. They were representing the Aero Club of St. Louis, which had paid $1,200 for the balloon, as well as a $500 customs duty since it had been built in France expressly for the race by Maurice Mallet.
     On October 17, Alan Hawley and Augustus Post got away at 6:35 p.m. in the 35,000-cubic-foot Stevens No. 21 on a routine trial flight. The ascension was witnessed by many of the Gordon Bennett contestants, as well as a large crowd of spectators. The Stevens No. 21 landed twelve hours later at 6:30 a.m. at Boggstown, Indiana, only 225 miles away, for the two aeronauts had taken only 280 pounds of ballast and did not expect a long flight. During the trip they kept a diary and made several interesting entries;
 
  9:10 - Gunshot fired; scared us pretty bad for a while. I don't
think it was fired maliciously, but it is a poor way to greet a balloonist.
10:41 - Drag rope tore off front fence of cottage. Woman came
out and said something; couldn't understand her; didn't particularly
want to.
11:00 - Sullivan, at an elevation of 600 feet, drag rope struck
roof of Masonic Home. Some one came out and yelled; "This is
The Masonic Home 135 miles from St. Louis.
 
       By October 23, the results of the Gordon Bennett International Race, which had been started two days earlier, were tentatively known. The St. Louis (United States) - Alan R. Hawley, pilot and Agustus Post, aide, was in fifth place, having traveled 714.500 miles to Westminister, Maryland.  

 
 
Alan R. Hawley
 
 
GROUNDS OF THE ARO CLUB OF ST. LOUIS. TEN BALLOONS PREPARING TO START
IN THE FIFTH INTERNATIONAL RACE FOR THE GORDON BENNETT CUP

"America II," Mr. Hawley's balloon, is nearest the gasometer, and is indicated
by a cross. It was the ninth to start.

Collection of Costyn van Dongen
 
 
GORDON BENNETT BALLOON RACE,
     On 17 October 17,1910 the fifth Gordon Bennett balloon race had begun at St. Louis with ten starters. Alan R. Hawley and Augustus Post of the Aero Club of America in the America II had vanished into the Canadian wilderness, leaving the world in suspense for a week while they made their way out on foot. Aeronautics had pride of place in the news.
 
Greatest Air Race Ever Known, Rheims, 1913
     The failure of the United States to participate again pointed up the slow rate of progress in the country that had defeated the best France had to offer in the first Gordon Bennett. Alan R. Hawley, newly elected president of the Aero Club of America, admitted what was wrong in a blunt statement to the press: "We could not send an American monoplane or biplane over, because none of our machines are half speedy enough."
From Blue Ribbon of the Air

Editors Note:
     I was privileged to know Henry during several years before his death. He was an fascinating companion and a lifetime friend of aviation. For the complete story of the Gordon Bennett Race, I invite you to read Henry's book.
 

 
 
Alan R. Hawley
Alan R. Hawley
 
 
Curtiss June Bug - 1908
Library of Congress Collection, 7-1-08
 

 
 
Clarence B. Coombs
 
 
CLARENCE B. COOMBS & ALAN HAWLEY
Library of Congress Collection, 1-13-11
 

 
 
ONLINE RESOURCES
     If you search for "Alan R. Hawley" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (7-2-08), you will find about 350 links. Perhaps the most helpful is the following.
 
 
Alan R. Hawley
     This article on the Wikipedia website offers a very nice revue of his life and career. It includes sections on his Early life, the Gordon Bennett Race and Other accomplishments. In addition you will find recommendations to External links, for Further reading and References. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.
 

 
 
SEES AMERICAN LEAD IN AERONAUTICS SOON
     This extensive article in the November 26, 1910 edition of the New York Times reveals many details of the state of aviation development and of Hawley's opinion as to the future. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.
 

 
 
 
 
Alan R. Hawley
     EBs have paid their last respects to fellow-member Alan R. Hawley at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City.
     This pioneer sport balloonist, holder of Ae. C. A. balloon certificate No. 7 died February 16, 1938, at his home in New York. He was a pioneer automobile enthusiast, founder member of the Automobile Club of America and of the Aero Club of America. His balloon won the 1910 national race and he and Augustus Post made a new distance record in the Gordon Bennett that fall, a distance which still stands as the American record. The pair was lost to civilization for a week before they could telegraph news of their safety. Hawley was permanent holder of the Lahm balloon trophy
from CHIRP - AUGUST, 1938 - DEARBORN, MICH. - NUMBER 22.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir
 

 
  Highly Recommended Further Reading:
 
CITY OF FLIGHT:
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
by James J. Horgan
The Patrice Press.
 
BLUE RIBBON OF THE AIR
The Gordon Bennett Races
by Henry Serrano Villard
Smithsonian Institution Press
 

 
 
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