Joseph R. Torrey
Long Beach Reunion, 1973
EB CHIRP, January, 1974, Number 80


     In the year following the end of the Great War, St. Louis moved into its readjustment by once again turning to the aeronautic activity which had made the city one of the primary air centers in the United States. In 1919, balloon racing returned to St. Louis in the form of two significant events. They were conducted by the Missouri Aeronautical Society, the successor to the Aero Club of St. Louis. The society had been formed at St. Louis in April 1917, for the purpose of trainng balloon pilots for wartime service. During the next 1 1/2 years, the organization's adjunct, the Missouri Aeronautical Reserve Corps, under the command of the ever-active Albert Bond Lambert, "qualified 354 students, made more than 1,500 ascensions and used 34,000,000 cubic-feet of gas." The society was to conduct both the Army-Navy and the National Balloon Races in 1919.
     On July 15, 1919, Major Albert Bond Lambert announced that St. Louis had been selected by the Aero Club of America as the site for the annual National Balloon Race, which would start on October 1.
     The ten entrants, many of whom had performed in St. Louis in the past, selected their starting positions by lot on September 29 at the Missouri Aeronautical Society grounds at Meramec Park. Captain Elmer G. Marchuetz and Lieutenant Charles S. Powell of St. Louis would be the first to start. The final balloon, scheduled to depart at 6:45, would be the America," with Lieutenant Joseph S. Batt and Joe Torrey II of the Aero Club of America in charge.
     At 6:45 p.m., the America, the last contestant, took to the air. Said Major Lambert, "It was a wonderful start. You do not often see ten balloons get off in a race in such a perfect manner."
     Batt and Torrey took the America only 220 miles to Leland, Illinois.

       Joseph R. Torrey, 19 Westland Street, Worcester, Massachusetts, was born on September 4th, 1892, at Worcester. He learned to fly at the Curtiss School in Buffalo during the summer of 1916 and made his first solo flight in August of that year. On September 29th of that year he received his F.A.I. #577. He also holds F.A.I. Free Balloon Certificate #608, and Dirigible Pilot's Certificate #18, issued in 1917 and 1918 respectively. Mr. Torrey later became a flying instructor and taught U. S. Naval Cadets lighter than air flying. He piloted the Massachusetts entry in the 1916 National Balloon Race from St. Louis, Missouri. He is President and owner of the J. R. Torrey Razor Company, 128 Chandler Street, Worcester, one of the oldest razor companies in the U.S.A. He is present self employed as an Investment Counselor.
By Waldo Waterman, President
The Early Birds of Aviation
December 18, 1962

  Highly Recommended Further Reading:
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
by James J. Horgan
The Patrice Press.

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