Book article about the 21st Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

From the Book: Die Gordon Bennett Ballon Rennen
(The Gordon Bennett Races) by Ulrich Hohmann Sr

Start: Chicago, September 2nd at 6 p.m.

1933, the year in which in Germany the evil began. The governments had changed in shorter and shorter periods in the year 1932, the National Socialist Party promised calmness, development and welfare. We know today, where these promises lead. The economy had not yet overcome its crisis, but it went upwards slowly. On March 8th, 1933, still 6.002.000 unemployed were counted in Germany (in the USA, this number was estimated at about 15 millions), on August 15th; this number had dropped to 4.334.000. But on July 31st, the secretary of the interior had reported 26789 persons in “protective prison camps”. Since April a boycott of Jewish shops was ordered, artists and scientists were prohibited to act on stage or to teach, those who recognised the signs of time left the country.

Let’s turn to more pleasant things. On June 1st, 1933 the world exhibition was opened in Chicago. The Gordon Bennett Race was a part of this event. But even before, this world exhibition attracted the breathtaking sensations of aviation. On July 15th, 24 flying boats under the command of the Italian general Balbo landed there, after a 15 days group flight across the Atlantic from Orbetello via Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Cartwright (Labrador), Shediac (Canada) and Montreal. In Europe, on July 21st, the new passenger plane HE 70, reached the never before covered average speed of 333 kilometres per hour on a test flight from Berlin to Copenhagen. The JU 60 was put into service; it made 245 kilometres an hour. A new long distance world record was announced on August 21st. French Codos and Rossi covered the route New York – Beirut = 9.062 kilometres in 56 1/2 hours. In America J. Wedell set a new world record for speed in a racing plane of 880 h.p. Speed was most interesting in those days. Italy was cheering, when their passenger steamer REX won the Blue Ribbon for the quickest Atlantic crossing from Geneva via Gibraltar to New York in 4 days, 13 hours and 58 minutes on September 3rd. And so it becomes also understandable, why the Americans requested autographs from the German competitor at the Gordon Bennett Race, Fritz von Opel on the shreds of his burst balloon: Fritz von Opel was a well known racing car driver, who also had drawn much attention by first experiments with a rocket motor in a plane.

And the balloon? Was it finally pushed out into the cold? No, it was still unbeatable, if it was for gaining altitude. There was almost a race for the world record in altitude. Piccard had improved his record of 15.946 m from the year 1931 to 16.940 m with a flight from Zurich on August 18th, 1932. Russian Georgij Prokofiew, Ernst Birnbaum and Konstantin Godunow managed 18.500 meters from Moscow on February 28th, 1933. This race went on and caused five deaths in the following year 1934. To this fits, that two days before the launch of the Gordon Bennett Race in Chicago, in Essen balloon BARTSCH VON SIGSFELD flown by Alexander Dahl for the meteorological observatory of this town, reached an altitude of 11.300 meters thus setting up a new German record for altitude.

Richard Schütze gives report from the 21st Gordon Bennett Race from Bitterfeld. His report contains everything that happened before and during the race, here are his words:

Report from Pilot Richard Schütze (GER)

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