Friday May 16 1919
Headlines:- C-5 DESCRIBED IN FULL; Big Dirigible Nearly Wrecked in Dive of 400 Feet. STOOD SEVEREST OF TESTS Commander Coil Reports Total Duration of Flight 25 Hours 50 Minutes
Ed Voisey drops in to pay a visit to Carrie, Ike's recently widowed mother, Ike is home because taken the afternoon off work because, he worked all day on Wednesday which was a half holiday at the railway office as is the practice with most other business all over town.
Ed needed Ike out of the house so he could talk to Carrie alone. He thought of a plan meant to accomplish two of his objectives. "Eric, I have a favor to ask. Do you think you can go up to the stable and take out Starr for little exercise? I haven't had a chance to exercise him since a week last Wednesday."
Ed kept his horses not that far from the Crocker's house at 28 Barter's Hill. His stable was located on Gear Street, near the intersection of Barter's Hill and Le Marchant Road. Ike would, from time to time go to the stables, to groom and walk Mr. Voisey's horses. He loved working with the horses and Starr was his favorite.
Starr was a Newfoundland black stallion, a magnificent creature, with a long flowing mane and bushy forelocks, which were so long, they covered his eyes most of the time. People called him Starr spelled with a double 'R'; his real name was Starr of the Sea after the Newfoundland Society of that same name. Ed had never got around to cutting him because he was too good as a sire. He could be always counted on to leave his stamp of fine confirmation and stamina on the offspring and, in addition to all that, he earned a good dollar for each live foal on the ground.
Starr had been resting up in his stall for more than a week, recovering from a lameness in his left front leg caused by a bruised frog in the sole of his foot. It was a common injury and not serious, but one that took a long time to heal. Ike took Starr from his standing stall, threw a halter over his head and placed him on cross ties. He lifted his leg and tested his sole with a hoof pick for soreness. Starr did not flinch when Ike pressed around the frog with the pick. "Sound as a shilling" declared Ike. "What you need now Starr, is a little walking and some exercise to take the edge off ya." This is an expression used by horse people, when referring to a horse that is 'full of beans' from lack of exercise. One usually knows when his horse is feeling good, because the animal has a definite propensity, to buck and fart with extreme intensity in this condition.
After spending a few minutes walking Starr around the neighborhood, Ike decided that Starr had worked off his edge and that it would be the perfect time to take his first ride on horseback. Inevitably when there is a keen horse and an inexperienced rider, things can go bad very quickly and it did just that.
The pleasant ride through town on a peaceful sunny Thursday afternoon that Ike had in mind, suddenly developed into a fight for survival. Within seconds of mounting, something caused Starr to bolt, perhaps it was the death grip Ike had on the reins, or the shouts of glee and surprise from the gaggle of mischievous young boys and girls who were gathered on Le Marchant Road looking for a little excitement at the time.
Starr lunged forward breaking into a wild gallop. Ike, in a desperate bid for survival went forward over the withers, clutching at the flying mane for dear life. Suddenly he forgot about his reins or saddle, forgot the pedestrians who were, up to this point leisurely strolling the high-ground. Where Le Marchant forks off into Long's Hill and becomes Harvey Road, where the south side of the street affords a wonderful view of the harbor, hundreds of feet below, someone screams "RUN AWAY!"
Protection from a tumble down a hundred foot drop-off for a thrown horseman is afforded only by a flimsy wooded fence lining the south side of the street. The threat of imminent danger motivated Ike to hang on even tighter to the mane.
Rounding the bend at the Basilica, Ike saw with horror that the road in front was clogged with merry makers, pouring out of the cathedral from a wedding. Ike knew that halting to avoiding a disastrous accident was not an option. The distance between him and the crowd was fast disappearing. Ike did the only thing he could think of, raising his head he screamed at the top of his lungs "GET OUT OF THE ROAD."
All eyes turned to see a horse and rider bearing down on them. Then someone shouted "RUNAWAY! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!" Miraculously a path open up in the crowd just wide enough to let the flying horse pass by without trampling anyone, breaking stride or slowing.
The mad dash continued, now bearing down on Rowland's Cross, an intersection where no fewer than five different streets converged and crossed one another. Could he make it through the cross without killing someone? He certainly didn't want to be responsible for a future renaming of the famous Cross.
As his hopes were about to be fulfilled, when he spied it. His next challenge was a slow moving long-bed cart and driver containing a load of poles drawn by a single work horse, entering the intersection. A quick estimate of relative velocities led to the horrifying conclusion that they would meet precisely in the middle of the intersection unless something drastic altered their progress. He knew for certain that he had no control over his progress and, it was clearly evident that the driver was not paying any attention to impending dangers, since his head was turned backward, studying his long load of poles trailing behind.
The bone crushing impact was imminent. There was nothing for Ike to do except close his eyes and pray and wait for unconsciousness to end this nightmare. But, instead of impact, Ike felt an upward thrust and a feeling of flight, and the sound of pounding hooves fell momentarily silent. The crazed animal arched cleanly over cart and load, without so much as a click of hooves against the obstacle.
The flight continued next by Bannerman Park where gaggles of youngsters lined the street, cheering Ike on and urging Starr, to go even faster. Passing the legislator building, then the Governor's House, his course takes a detour through the grounds of the Old Garrison Church of St. Thomas. This was the family church where he and three sisters were christened and religiously attended the Sunday School, the church where his father was eulogized just a few short months earlier.
Thankfully the church was not in service and the grounds were practically deserted. He was spared the embarrassment of being seen by the school's teaching staff or the clergy. Starr and rider flew through the church yard and exited the grounds by an alleyway. They crossed Kings Bridge road without encountering other traffic, which is a miracle in itself since the road is a major artery for traffic entering and leaving town.
The straight line course took the pair down Forest Road and past the Church of England Cemetery where his dear departed father lay in a freshly dug grave. Suddenly a thought flashed through his mind "What if this crazy horse kills me today; I will be soon be sharing the family plot." There was no such thought in Starr's head, as was evident by his still strong gallop, which showed little signs of slowing, but Ike maintained his firm grip of the mane, and was starting to feel a little more secure in his perch upon Starr's withers. On his left, he could see the waters of Kitti Vitti pond, where crews of rowers were in training, in the sleek racing shells, as they had for centuries past.
He was beginning to appreciate the scene a little when he realized, that he was rapidly approaching the village of Quidi Vidi, located at the bottom end of the pond. The landscape, suddenly turned hilly, with huge outcroppings and boulders strewn about by long gone glaciers that once covered this land. The narrow roadway through the village twisted itself in and around hills and rocks, the wooden frame houses and buildings which were peppered behind, and between them, on any flat surface that could be found.
Under normally safe circumstances it would be a test to negotiate that roadway safely at a trot on horseback but there was nothing normal with Ike's situation at this moment. There was nothing to do again, but close eyes and hope for the best. Starr entered the obstacle course at full speed, but the tight turns, poor footing and ominous barriers, caused the pace to slacken and the gait suddenly transitioned into a trot, as horse and rider exited the village.
Crossing the wooden bridge at the foot of the lake, the trot turned into a walk, at which point the novice rider eased his death grip on the mane and began to feel for the reins once more. Still shaking from his experience, Ike halted the beast and gently slid down the now foaming white shoulder of the sweating horse.
He began the long trek home on foot, to cool out his charge and rule out any chance of foundering the animal, as he had learned from Mr. Voisey.
Ike hadn't gone more than half a mile when he came upon a strange scene. Hovering a few feet above the ground was an enormous blue cigar shaped dirigible surrounded by a throng of people, some holding ropes attached to the strange craft. The people holding fast to the ropes, seemed to be having trouble steadying the craft in the breeze that had suddenly sprung up.
The wind was increasing in intensity and Ike noticed that the craft is pulling on the ropes so hard that it is lifting the sailors off their feet and dragging them over the ground farther and farther from the anchor post. "Hey you! You with the horse! Come over here and lend a hand with this rope. We want to attach this rope to your horse....We have to try to drag this thing back to it's anchor ~~ Sailor, get some rope and splice up a collar for that horse, so we can attach this rope." ordered a Navy man who appeared to be in charge of the ground crew.
"Hurry up with that collar we are loosing ground all the time. We have to drag her back to that mooring post and lash her down before another gust catches her."
The sailor finishes splicing the rope collar and hands it to Ike to slip over Starr's head. Someone hands a line from the air ship to Ike and he carefully slips it through the halyard that the seaman had attached to the makeshift collar and ties it off with a horseman's quick release knot for safety, just in case this doesn't work. Ike slowly walks the gray forward to take up the slack in the rope, urging him forward with gentle pats on his rump. Keeping an eye to the tow rope, Ike sees the slack disappear and the rope become taught and Starr's carriage pulling experience comes into play as he leans into the load and ever so slowly the air ship is slowly dragged inch by inch back to the temporary anchor that the ground crew has just finished constructing. As the hawser is fastened to the anchor pylon, a cheer goes up from the ground crew and volunteers who had up to now been locked into a loosing battle with the stiff breeze that had been blowing since noon.
A middle aged man in navy work dress approaches Ike as he is removing the make shift harness and patting the neck of Starr. "What's your name son?"
"Eric Crocker sir!"
"Well the US Navy is much obliged to you and your horse. We were in a bad way until you came along. We have more men from the Chicago joining us later to help steady our craft but for now everything is under control. I want to present you with this souvenir and an invitation to dine on our ship while we are in port as a token of our appreciation."
With that Commander of the ground crew Lieutenant C. G. Little U.S.N.R.F. handed Ike a small brass medal, with a likeness of the blimp inscribed on one side and his name and rank embossed on the back side.
Ike hung around for about half an hour looking around and asking the ground crew guys lots of questions. "What are those people over there doing with the tanks and hoses? What makes it go?" inquired Ike, as he gazed in wonder at the activity going on all around him.
"Those guys are filling the fuel tanks and gassing the bags so it will lift when they are ready to takeoff. It has two big gasoline engines to drive it forward, I think someone said that they were more than 120 horse power each if I am not mistaken." replied the lieutenant.
"Why is she wagging back and forth and pitching up and down that way? Does it always do that?"
"No this is most unusual. We usually have a tall mast to secure it to, but there is nothing here like that, so we have to do the servicing from the ground."
"Where are they going when they leave here?"
"They are hoping to be the first to fly to England, they want to be the first to make the Atlantic crossing by flying machine."
"They must be crazy, that thing could never make a trip like that. Ike stood holding Starr and studied the scene.
The C-5 (1) was the largest flying object he had ever seen. She was cigar shaped, blue in color and looked to be at least 200 feet in length with a control car slung underneath for the crew. Two fins were located at the rear, one standing vertically which had a forward fixed section with a hinged section trailing rearward, presumably to steer the craft. Similarly there were horizontal surfaces protruding from each side at the stern with fixed and moving sections also. Ike speculated that this must be for controlling the craft, causing it to rise or descend according to which ever way they were moved. The tail section also included two pod shaped objects, one on either side with propellers pointing aft. Ike reflected upon what the crew man had just told him about the gasoline engines and things started to make sense. "Of course, now I understand." he remarked to a boy who had happened to be standing next to him.
"Oh nothing! I was just thinking of how this thing works, that's all."
The giant craft being moored so close to the ground was being buffeted by the turbulent winds at the surface. She was beginning gyrate noticeably and she was tugging at the bow line as she swayed from side to side and pitched up and down causing the lines to rhythmically slacken and then go taught again. Ike begins to noticed that as time passes the intensity of these gyrations increased. A thought began to form in his mind as the crew boss wanders by with his arms folded across his chest and a concerned look on his face. The boss spies Ike and remarks. “Still here I see. What do you think Ike?"
"Well sir! I was wonder where the aircrew are and why they are not in the craft controlling her with the engines and rudders."
"Frankly Ike , I think they are hoping she blows away, so they won't have to attempt this fool hardy flight. They high tailed it away as soon as they landed and said that she's on the ground, she is your problem now. Frankly I don't blame them; I wouldn't want to be going with them tonight. I heard from one of the crew that they almost lost her on the flight down here. She was diving straight at the ground on a couple of occasions when they managed to pull her out of the dive seconds before hitting the ground. They only managed to survive the trip in from Placentia by following the railway tracks, because they found, it was impossible to follow a compass course because of the wind. That was last night and I would say that the wind is worse right now."
Just then shouts and screams are heard The lieutenant and Ike spin around to see what is going on at the bow line. Some of the sailors from the Chicago and civilians, those close to bow of the party assigned to hold the bow down are dangling with their feet 10 to 12 feet off the ground. Someone yells "JUMP", and one by one the holding crew members lets go of the rope and falls back to earth as the craft suddenly gains altitude Spectators gasp as the craft continues to rise a lone lines man is still hanging on but he too, realizes it's now or never and at twenty feet or so, he relinquishes his grip and falls feet first back to earth The C-5 broke free of her moorings at 14:50 local time and swiftly rises and is seen disappearing over the hills surrounding Quida Vida Gut and never seen again (5).
(5)- The C-5 left New York at 8AM May 15th 1919 and landed 25 hrs 50 minutes after takeoff. which was 10 minutes to 10 A.M. on the 16 th May 1919. (Which was a Friday)
Built by Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Goodrich Rubber Company.
C-1 to C-10. (Non-rigid) Length 192 ft. Hydrogen capacity181,000 cu.ft.
Powered by two 125 hp French Hispano-Suiza engines. Max speed 60 mph Cruising speed 45 mph
Endurance approximately 2 days. Range 2,100 miles.
C-5 made unsuccessful attempt to be first across Atlantic on May 15,