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: A BALLOON? CAkTASTROPHE. MIRACULOUS iESCAPE OF THE AERONAUT. Ti.e sensational event.of Easteri Monday (says the `Melbourne Atgus) was 'the balloon ascent of "M; Henrii TL'Estrahge and the marvellous escape.of.the aeronaut from destruction. - L'Estrange was ad vertised to ascend in the balloon ' Aurora,'. and a large number dof personris assembled at the Agricultural Sdciety's ground to witness the event. Ini::.o'rdseto secure a full inflation of the.balloon, the Metropol itan Gas Company laid- on a- special -Gini. :main. Shortly: after 11' .o'clock :.the operation of filling.the. balloon ;was com menced, and so'strong'was -:the pressure on the main, that without;any assistance from the centrifiig.:pump, which was in readiness, the balloon: was inflated in the course of about'30 'niinutes. It:is known; however; that in convoying the balloon from the'. Horticultuial .Hall to the grounds, seiveriil holes 'had been made in the 'calico, and these .had.to be'repaired by M. L'Estrange before tihe balloon was fully taut and ready for the- ascent. He made the repairs, hurriedly, and used a plaster to -eff'et them, but he- said he would' chance it.' A few-minutes after 3'o'clock the work of attaching the car or basket in which the.aeronaut takes his plaee wvas'commenced, and at 20'minutes -to 4 .o'clock ;the- adventurer tookl his place in the car, aahd proceeded to tieiup the oritice of the .balloon with, a pocket handkerchief, the valve check passing through orifice so secured into- the car. This proceeding hlias .been. much com mented. on as unusual, and .to.it some people attribute the accident. M. L'Es. trange at once gave the signal to let go, and almost immediately the balloon, shot up in the air with surprising v elocity. The aeronaut, however, did not appear to be at all alarmed, and waved "his adieux to the assembled multitude with perfect sang-froid. When about half a mile from the earth he threw out of the .car a number of handbills, which floated in the atmosphere for la, considerable distance, and when he had ascended to a ,still greater height, he was observed to throw out the contents of a bag of sand. The balloon still continued to ascend, and the car arid its occupant iwere quite unrecog nisable without the aid cf a. glass, when the balloon itself was seen .to suddenly open on one side and commence to de scend with terrible velocity. Almost in: stantly: the silk 'parachute attached to the centre of the balloon opened and checked the speed at- which -the balloon was descending, but still it was of so rapid a iiature that the majority of those ilookingon were of opinion that Mi. ,L'Es= traaige would be dashed to pieces. The ecowd watched the-descent with breath. lies'anxiety, and seeing the direction in which the balld6ii fell, a rush was made ta the spot. Onii :reaching, the place .it was founid that M. L'Estrange-was buried beneath':the debris of the Sballoon,t'the netting and portion-of the linen of which was caught.ii a.:ftir :tree at Ithe rear-iof Government house. Tlie.carp had. fallen to the groundl by the side of the tree; atid M. L'Estriange, overcotne by tilhe violence of the , shok, was unable to extricate himself 'from the folds of the material of wtiich thei balloon was constructed. This was, liowever, promptly remedied;. and the fearless aeronaut ??as rescued:from beneiath 'apparelitly`: -little, iiijuired. lThe time occupiedd in this irapid aseeit, and still more speedy descent, ,was as near as possible nine minutes, Amongst. the excited crow l there wei'e so'on :cir: culating ait least a dozen sitateinilits as to the cause of the accident. M. L'Est;range's story. is as follows :-He , states that having in Sydiiey:beeni supplied with'bgas ofsuchi :inferior quality he , had.. not been able to aidequately calculate the buoyniicy of the balloon when ::inflated ' witli the Melbourne gas: ";When starting' he went iip. with aiiaring 'rapidity ,. and eveiry -thling;appearned to be goingoir well; when he passed through a' stratum of clouds, -and thinkiyg thait lie .would meet .with further atmosiiherici resistance, he emptied cut a bag.of ballast IThe effect was to cause the balloon to shoot uip' with great. elority, and iiniost immiiediritely after ,w!ards -he heard an explosion as :if of i large cainnion, anid on looking up he saw' tliiat the bailloon; li;rd ;·iiu.st.. He theni commerced-. to -.: descend ::with .terriLle velocity, tibt the parachute, olened out and somewhat checked l::his ,dpeed He hild tlIe piresence of alindto throw :every, thiigonnt of the car, and having done so, he quietly awaited liis fa'te . Exipectiing every mhinut- ii'be'dashed to, pieces, he siittly -descended,,and tihe canistruck the earth, giving him a-violont shoclk, while
L'Estrange explainSi that immediatoly iaftei* `hrowing otiit. thosba'ir ofsaind he found himselfin a newo and highly :rarb tied atmospihero. He wis ?ust going 'to open-tlie valve atnd a'llow as qu?hntity of gas to escape, whe .the balloon, epldoded. Under :;ordiuury circumstances, When inflated, the balloon; was :supposed to' cai?iry i weight of 14691b' andd tba: with tho weight of the material l070i15, :let
3991b to spare, for ballast and passengers but with the Melbourne gas it is he. lieved that there was at least 7001b to spare, and the consequence was that when the balloon was let go it shat up with un expected force and speed. M. L'Estringe attributes the disaster to the fact that the gas was of a much lighter quality than that for which his calculated the density of the higher atmosphere into which he ascended. His sensations after the balloon collapsed were, as may well be immagined, of a very dreadful nature. He had ascended to a height of nearly a mile and three quarters from the earth, and he felt that filling from that height death would be inevitable; but having thrown out the ballast, and endeavoured as far as possible to gather up the re mains of the balloon, he commended him self to a higher power. Consequent up on the velocity with which he decended, the wind came whistling and screaming through the bottom of the car, and he feared that the parachute would fail him. It split in swveral places, but still remain. ed tolerably effective. On reaching the g round, althongh sistaining a fearful shook; he realised the fact that he' had es iaped with his life, 'ihe" folds of the balloon, : however;'ipressed 'closely upon him, and he: was in dread ot ý:suffocation, but-finding a-small holoe in the linen :he placed his .mouthto it,, and .was, enabled to obtain air by that means sufficient to. sustain himself until" assistanceI arived. On' bein~:g resoued 'iM.: :LEstrang'e was placed in a cab and'taken to his residence and l lter, in ithe evening! he visited sever-: all placesin the.city. " :In consequence of: the rumonrs circulated- as to the fate :of the aceronaut-- whiose escape the eye-wit nesses of the disaster coiil scarceiy be: introdiuced' to believe?-M-Lessrs iHiscocls.: anidHaym'innindudced hi to iappeaiui ;. on the stagd.at St George's 1Hall, where he met withiia ,most enthiusiastic recep-: tio n. .