Letters Home: Raymond Spahr

From the October 24, 1918 Skidmore News:

From Raymond Spahr
The following letter was received this week from Raymond Spahr, son of J. C. Spahr of this place:

Akron, Ohio, Sunday.

Dear Folks: —
Am afraid this letter will be a little shocky, but while I’m waiting for the bus will tell you what happened to me this afternoon.  I was ordered to break the Sabbath by taking out a solo and left the hangar at 2:35 in a mist.  Went up to three thousand feet and hit a denser fog and a stiff wind, finally started down and found that the fog had sifted clear to the ground.  Stayed up one hour and twenty minutes trying to get my bearings, but fog was so dense I couldn’t even read my instruments and I consequently lost all sense of directions and altitude.  Then came down nearer ground and it grew worse.  Knew I was lost, but kept trusting for it to clear up, when suddenly crashed into a great oak tree and lodged about 100 feet from ground.  I then pulled the emergency trip cord and let gas out, meanwhile grabbing a limb of the tree with my free hand.  Balloon suddenly tippled over throwing me out and I landed in the branches of the tree across a big dead limb about 75 feet from ground.  The balloon then blew onto a high tension electric wire which was near and the metal cap struck the wire making a spark which ignited the gas causing an explosion, after which machine burned nearly up.

Managed to get down and with help of farmers, attracted by the crash, to save the passenger basket instruments and part of the gas bag.  Am unhurt except for a slightly strained shoulder and bruised side which do not amount to anything and am on my way back to the station.  Found I was 7 miles from Youngstown and had made 76 miles in one hour and twenty minutes.

Believe me I feel glad it was no worse and am also glad it is my last flight here as it finished my course here and I expect to leave for Pennsecola, Fla., as soon as my orders come.  Had hoped to get home, but am afraid I won’t make it.

Don’t worry about my experience as its over now and the Blimp training is not nearly so dangerous.  Believe me there was a time this afternoon when I’d have sold out real cheap.

Celebrated my birthday yesterday by flying to Cleveland.

Ray.