Horace B. Wild
  Missouri Historical Society  
  Jack Dallas taking off in a Strobel airship. Moments later he crashed into telephone and trolly wires on Kingshighway, suffering only minor damage to himself and his aircraft.  


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 Aeronautical Federation.
     The Aero Club of St. Louis decided to broaden the program into an aereonautic tournament by adding two unique contests scheduled for the days after the start of the Gordon Bennett race.. In each event, $2,000 was to be awarded to the winner and $500 the contestant who finished second. The first contest was for "Dirigible balloons or airships which are lighter than air, being made so by a bag or envelope containing a gas lighter than air." A three-quarter-mile triangular course was laid out from the Aero Club grounds in Forest Park north west to a captive balloon over the Amateur Athletic Association grounds, and then return to the starting point.
     The second event was for "Machines heavier than air, which are designed to be lifted from the ground and propelled by the pressure of planes or external surfaces of some light material against the air." This was an unprecedented contest, "For the first time in history, as far as we know," commented a contemporary journalist, "there is expected to be actual 'races' between gasless flying machines at St. Louis." First prize was to be awarded for the "longest or best continuous flight," in the opinion of the judges, with the runner-up receiving second prize. There was no prescribed course, only the stipulation that the machines fly at least 100 feet to be eligible for the prizes.
     On October 22, the contest committee of the Aero Club of St. Louis revised the rules for the dirigible race. In place of the triangular course originally set, a new route was laid out "from a line in the aero enclosure straight to Blair Monument, Forest Park, rounding a captive balloon or other goal located there and return, crossing the line of start.
     When the races were held, before a crowd of 100,000 on October 23, only five of the entrants took part, and only three finished the course. Horace B. Wild attempted a flight in the Comet . but his engine broke down and he drifted back over the crowd and landed south of the concourse. Charles Baysdorfer, the owner, then ascended in the same ship, but he also experienced difficulty and crashed after a slow dive from a height of 150 feet, causing $100 in damage to the airship and almost killing himself.
     Charles J. Strobel, who owned the airships flown by Lincoln Beachey and Jack Dallas, collected first and second prizes of $1,500 and $750 respectively. Thomas Scott Baldwin, who had finished a poor third, received $250. In addition, a special purse of $375 was given to Cromwell Dixon in apreciation for his excellent performance. Within four years, "the youngest aviator in the United States" would be killed when he crashed from a height of 100 feet at the International Fair Grounds in Spokane, Washington, on October 2, 1911.

Horace is mentioned briefly as participant of
the celebration of the Curtiss flight, 1935
You can read the whole story by clicking on:
Horace B. Wild
You may want to use the "Find" function on "Wild"

     If you search for "Horace B. Wild" +aviation +Comet, using the Google search engine, (1-11-11), you will find about 10 links. Among the most helpful are the following.
Horace B. Wild
Popular Science - Feb 1931
     This three page article from the February, 1931 issue of Popular Science Monthly makes for fascinating reading. It is illustrated with many photographs and Captain Wild recounts the stories of many of the pioneers.

Airship visited Bloomington in 1910
     This story by Bill Kemp on the Pantagraph.com website includes references to Wild, as well as to George Yager, his fellow pioneer.

Contributed by Rick Murcek, 1-11-11
Here are some more pictures...


City of Flight
City of Flight : The History of Aviation...
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
by James J. Horgan
The Patrice Press.

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