" Austria Scene of Most Sensational Disaster Since Man Learned to Fly. Aeroplane "Attacks" the Balloon, Rips it Open, and Explosion and Catastrophe Result,"
Knoxville Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: June 21, 1914,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 3-2-07
The dirigible military balloon Koertling early today left Fischamend, eleven mles from Vienna, manned by Captain Johann Hauswirth in command, Lieutenant Ernst Hofstetter, Lieutenant Bruer, Lieutenant Hiadinger, Corporal Hadima, Corporal Weber and Engineer Kammerer.
After the lapse of half an hour a military biplane with Lieutenant Flatz and Lieutenant Hoosta aboard started in pursuit.
It was the intention of Captain Hauswirth to take photographs of the movements of the troops below and then to join the maneuvers. At the same time he was to keep out of range of any mosquito craft which might seek to attack him.
The news had gone abroad that something in the nature of a sham aerial fight would take place and at Koenigsberg the scene of the engagement, a big crowd had gathered. Very quickly the smaller, but much speedier craft overtook the big airship and then the spectators witnessed a thrilling sight.
Meanwhile the balloon continued to rise until it was about 1,300 feet from the ground. The aeroplane, at a still greater height, maneuvered until it appeared to be nearly over the airship. Then it began its descent. It was the evident intention of the pilot of the aeroplane to take up a position directly above the dirigible within striking distance, but owing either to a fatal miscalculation of distance or speed, the nose of the biplane struck the envelope of the airship and ripped it wide open.
The envelope of the balloon still was burning when it struck the ground. Lieutenant Flatz, when extricated from the wreckage of the aeroplane, showed faint signs of life, but almost immediately he expired. All others were killed.
Carried Out Instructions
According to some experts the catastrophy seemingly was caused by the aeroplane being caught in the eddies from the balloon. They attribute the accident to a species of whirlwind caused by the airship's propeller which drew in the smaller machine.
Archduke Charles Francis and several officials of the ministry arrived shortly on the scene and an aide-de-camp of the emperor also proceeded to seek information for his majesty and express the emperor's sympathy.
The Austrian army has lost several of the most intrepid and experienced aviators by today's accident, as well as its only dirigible.
The start of the dirigible was made without difficulty, but it is said, shortly afterward the spectators noticed that the balloon was not flying as well as usual, but was seemingly carried by the wind. Lieutenant Flatz, who was attached to the navy, is reported also to have remarked that the machinery of the balloon was not in order.
Peasants who were near at hand report hearing despairing shrieks of the occupants of the gondola as the wreck of the dirigible fell. Officers and men in automobiles hastened from Fischamend, but it was difficult to locate the spot until the pilot of another aeroplane made an ascent to reconnoiter.
Identification of the victims was difficult. So fierce had been the flames that all watches and rings were completely melted but singularly the pocketbooks of Hofstettler and Bruer were almost intact.
Lieutenant Bancher who was to have made the trip, arrived too late to do so. Another similarily fortunate man was Fireman Gaiswinkler, who was called back just as he was entering the gondola."
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