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A BALLOON CATASTROPHE.
MIRACULOUS KSCAH3 OF TUB
AKRON AU I*.
The sensational event of yesterday was the balloon ascent of M Henri LTitrange, and the marvellous escape of the aeronaut from destruction LLstrange waa advertised to ascend ui the balloon "Aurora, and a large number of pereonB assembled at the Agri- cultural Society a ground to witness the event In order to aecure a full inflation of the balloon, the Metropolitan Gas Company laid on a special Cm main Shortly after 11 o'clock the operation of filling the balloon was commenced, and so strong was the pressure on the main that with out any assistance from the centrifugal pump which was in readiness, the b iltoon waa inflated in the course of about ¿0 minutes It is known, however, that in con ve) ing the balloon from the Horticultural hall to the grounds several holes had been made in the calico, and these had to be repaired by Al LI strange before the balloon was full) taut and ready for tho ascent He made the re pairs hurriedly, and uaed a plaster to effect them, but he said ho x culd "chance it
A few minutes after S o clock the work of attaching the car or basket m which the aironaut takes his place was commenced, and at 20 minutes to 1 o clock the adventurer took his place in tho car, and proceeded to tie up the orifice ot the balloon with a ¡locket handkerchief, tho valve check passing throiiL.li the orifice so secured into the car This proceeding has been much commented on as unusual, and to it some people attri- bute the accident M L Lstrange at onco gave the signal to let go, and almost immediately the balloon shot up into the air with surprising velocity 'Ihe aeronaut, however, did not appear to be at all alarmed, and xi ax ed lus adieux to the assembled multitude xvith perfect sangfroid When about half a mile from the earth he threw out of the car a number of handbills xvlnch floated in the atmosphere for a considerable distance, und when lie had ascended to a still greater height, he was observed to throw out the contents of a bag of Band I ho balloon still continued to ascend, and the car and its occupant were quite unrecognisable without the aid of a glass, when the balloon itself was Been to suddenly open on one aido and commence to descend with terrible velocity AlmoBt instantly the silk parachute attached to the centre of the balloon opened and cheeked the speed at which tho balloon was descending, but still it waa of so rapid a nature that the majority of those looking on xvere of opinion that M L Estrange w ould be dashed to picceB The crowd xiatcbed the descent xvith breathless anxiety, and seeing the direction in which the balloon fell a tush was made for the spot On reaching tho place it was found that M L Estrange was buried beneath the débris of the balloon, the netting and portion of the linen of which xvas caught in a fir tree at ti e
rear of Government house The car had
fallen to the ground by the aide of the tree, and M LLstrange, overcome by the xiolenceof the shock, xvas unable to extri- cate himself from the folda of the material of which the balloon waa constructed This xvas, hoxv ex er, promptly remedied, and the fearless aeronaut was rescued, apparently but little injured The time occupied m this rapid ascent and still more speedy descent xi as ns near OB possible nine minutes Amongst the excited crowd there were soon circulating at least a dozen statements as to the cause of the accident M L Estrange a story is as follows -He states that having in Sjdney been supplied with gas of such inferior quality he had not been able to adequately calculate the buo)ancy of the balloon when inllated with the Melbourne j.aB Al hen starting he went up with remarkable rapidity and every thing appeared to be going well, xvhen he passed througl a stratum of clouds, and thinking that he xi ould meet xvith further atmospheric resist ance.heempticdoutabagof ballast Ihe effect xi as to cause the balloon to shoot up with great celerity, and almost immediately afterwards he heard an explosion as if of alargo cannon, and on looking up ho saw that the balloon had burst He then commenced to descend xuth terrible xelocit), but the parachute opened out, and somewhat checked ins speed Ile had the presence of mind to throw ever) thing out of the car, and bax mg done ao he quietly axvnited his fate 1 xpectmg every inmute to be dashed to pieces he swiftly descended, and the car struck the earth, gix ing him a x íolent shock xv bile the balloon w as caught upon a tree M L Estrange ex plains that immediately after throwing out the bag of sand he found lumBelf in a new and highly rarefied atmosphere He was just (,oing to open the valve and allow a quantity of t,as to escape, when the balloon exploded Under ordinary cm umstancea, when inflated the balloon was Bupposod to carr) a xxeight of 1,40 lib , and that with the weifeht of the material 1,0701b , left 3991b to spare for ballast and passengers but with the Melbourne L,as it is believed that there xi as at least 7001b to spare, and the conse quence xi as that xvhen the balloon xvas let go it shot up xvith unexpected force and Bpeed M L Estrange at tributes the disaster to the fact that the gas xvas of a much lighter quality than that for which his calculations were made and also that be miscalculated the densit) of the higher atmosphere into xvhich he ascended His sensations after the balloon collapsed were, aa may well be imagined, of a xer) dreadful nature Ile had oscended to a height of nearly a milo and three quarters from the earth, and he felt that, falling from that height, death xvould be inev liable , but having throw n out tho ballast, and endeavoured as far as possible to gather up the remains of the balloon ho commended himself to a higherpower Con sequent upon the velocity with xvhich he descended, the xvind came whistling and screaming through the bottom of the car, and he feared that the parachute xvould fail lum It split in several places, but still re mamed tolerably effective On reaching the tround, although sustaining a fearful shock, he realised the fact that he b id escaped with his life The folds of the balloon, however, pressed closely upon him, and ho was in dread of suffocation, but finding a small hole in the linen ho placed Ins mouth to it, and was enabled to obtain air b) that means Buffi cicnt to suatain himself until assistance orrixed On being rescued M L'Estrange xvas placed m n cab nnd taken to Ina resi
dence, and later in the evening he visited Bex eral places in the city Inconsequence of the rumours circulated as fo the fate of the aeronaut;-xv hose escope the e) e witnesses of the disaster could scarcely be induced to believe-Messrs Hiscocks and Hayman induced him to appear upon the stage at St George a Hall, where he met with a most enthusiastic reception