Book Article about 9th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

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

The first victory of Ernest Demuyter
Start: Birmingham/Alabama/USA, October 23rd 1920

A break for seven years now came to an end. Four years of World War I had changed a lot in aviation. The balloon had lost supremacy, planes and – much more important than today – airships went out of the war as horrible carrier of bombs but also proved their multiple usability. The balloons, in the war mostly used as survey platforms for attacks by artillery had been shot one by one out of the sky by enemy planes, only tethered balloons, to be used as barriers against planes, seemed to have some future. In Germany, almost 140 balloons had been registered when war began, first in 1921 two new balloons are put to service. Other sorrows were more important, flying balloons was considered to be easily spared. But in other nations as well a lot of discussions rose about flying balloons.

Should the race get a revived Gordon Bennett, the generous sponsor of this event had died on May 14th 1918, aged 77. Of course, his cup from 1906 was not yet finally won. No nation had managed it in the past eight races, to have the winning team three times in a row. This should happen in any case. Ballooning wasn’t taken very serious anymore, except by insiders. What do these, almost antediluvian balls, want in the world of progress? Nostalgia was an unknown word in those days. Faster, longer, higher was the slogan. This was proved by the Olympic Games, finishing two month before in Antwerp. Nurmi won three gold- and one silver-medal (10000 m running in 32:45,8; 8000 m cross-country running in 27:15,0; team placing, and silver for 5000 m in 15:00,0), 2606 athletes fought in 154 competitions (at least nine competitions in shooting with military guns!) and then gas balloons fly for the longest distance? This was considered at least as out of date as the tug-of-war, being an Olympic discipline for the last time.

Austria and Germany, guilty for the first World War, were excluded from participation in international sporting events. The F.A.I. had banned both nations from its circle. First in 1927 this decision was withdrawn by the F.A.I., Austria went without participation in Gordon Bennett Races until the year 1931. However, this exclusion was considered to be unfair, but other sorrows were more pressing. The results, seen from today: There are only very few reports about the races of the early 20th in German newspapers. Therefore let’s again tell the Belgian Ernest Demuyter, he began this year with a series of victories, bringing to him the reputation as the best pilot of the world for the next 18 years:

Report from E. Demuyter

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