By Don Piccard
An early BCA member was Tony Fairbanks who had been a student pilot in the Cleveland Balloon Club before WWII.
He donated an 80,000 cu ft balloon net (minus foot ropes he had cut off to save the seine twine net for household cordage) he kept from the CBC.
As he was just a kid he wasn't drafted so when the rest of the CBC went to war he inherited all the CBC's balloons and equipment. All but the net went to the Salvation Army!
A witness to the BCA's first flight was Francis Shields (BFA's Shields-Trauger Award winner) who called me the next day and immediately joined. He became very active and influential in the club.
Through my navy connections, a Lieutenant Punderson then working for Douglas Leigh Sky Adverising and a good friend of my parents got Douglas Leigh to donate several old U.S. Army balloons they had gotten in a War Assets Administration deal to distribute free to balloon clubs across the country. (There was a balloon club associated with the WLTAS that had no balloons and Ralph Upson's formative student club that had three non-flyable balloons.)
The only caveat was that we paint a flying Flamingo on the first balloon we were to fly, but no written copy, to promote another business DLSA was involved with "Flamingo Flying Orange Juice"
The BCA never painted the logo nor let any other club have any of the equipment!
Early on The BCA got the NAA to designate the BCA as official U.S. representatives to enter European balloon races thereby qualifying the BCA for free Military Air Transport Service. After a few years MATS decided that the benefits could only be granted to Ã¢â‚¬Å“National associations of clubsÃ¢â‚¬Â, so the Akron group was invited to join, hence the first "Balloon Federation of America"
Another early influential member was Peter Pelligrino who was the chief FAA tower controller at Philadelphia Northeast Airport