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This information comes from the biographical file for pilot Ballough, CB-024900-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


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Ervin Edward "Eddie" Ballough was praised by E.M. "Matty" Laird as a pilot who, "...could fly an airplane as well as or better than anyone else." Born in Daytona Beach, FL on October 14, 1892, he was taught to fly in 1912 by Ruth Law, herself an aviation pioneer. In 1917 Ballough tried to join the Army Flying Corps, but was turned down for lack of a college education. He went north to Canada and enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps as a mechanic. He was accepted for flight school on December 21, 1917 and performed so well that when he completed training he was commissioned as a first lieutenant and made an instructor. He was discharged on April 1, 1919.

Ballough & Matty Laird

He went into aviation work in Newark, NJ and while on a photo assignment with a local photographer, he decided to land his Jenny on the roof of an Army quartermaster warehouse in Newark. The roof was 978 feet long and 80 feet wide. He carefully slipped the airplane to a perfect landing, climbed out, and posed for a picture in front of the plane. Then, to the amazement of the 100 or so spectators who rushed to the scene, he turned the plane around, climbed in and took off. It was the first time in aviation history that a pilot landed and then took off from the roof of a building in an airplane. This was September 1, 1919. Don't try that today!

Ballough scored a few other firsts in aviation. He was, along with a radio newsman as passenger, the first to fly over disasters and provide on-the-spot news coverage. On July 4, 1923, he was the first pilot to fly photos for the news media when he flew pictures of the Dempsey-Gibbons fight from Shelby, MT to the Twin Cities for the Minneapolis Tribune. He is credited as being the first pilot to fly power line patrols for the Northern States Power Company. He is also credited with mapping the Twin Cities from the air with some 408 individual photos.

The image, left, shows Ballough with Matty Laird on the right. Laird manufactured his airplanes at Ashburn Field in west Chicago. He was the manufacturer of the airplane Ballough flew to Tucson (below).

In 1926, Ballough met Chicago millionaire and aviation enthusiast Charles Dickinson, who was operating the airmail route between Chicago and the Twin Cities. Soon after they met, he sold the route to the newly formed Northwest Airways and asked Ballough to be his personal pilot. Over the next year they flew all over the country to promote aviation.

In September 1927, Dickinson and Ballough entered Dickinson's plane, a modified Laird commercial, in the New York to Spokane, WA Air Derby in conjunction with the National Air Races that year. Leading all the way, a minor mishap on the last refueling stop enabled C.W. "Speed" Holman to pass them and they finished second in 20 hours, 18 minutes and 10 seconds. Below, from his NASM dossier, an image of their airplane (NC110, wearing race number 6). Ballough is at right rear.

NC110, Race Number 6, NAR 1927
NC110, Race Number 6, NAR 1927

Below, from site visitor M. Braunlich, is a photograph of Ballough, right, with Dickinson and their Laird taken at Roosevelt Field, NY before they departed cross-country. The caption dates the photograph at September 20, 1927. Note the different colors of the wheel covers between the two photographs.

Mechanic, Charles Dickinson, E.E. Ballough, Roosevelt Field, NY, September 20, 1927 (Source: Braunlich)
Mechanic, Charles Dickinson, E.E. Ballough, September 20, 1927 (Source: Braunlich)

Ballough landed twice at Tucson on September 11, 1928 and again on the 21st. Based in Chicago, IL, both times he carried as passenger aircraft owner Charles Dickinson on their way west from El Paso to Yuma, AZ. They landed in 7086, their Laird LC-R, wearing race number 40. They were participating this day in the 1928 National Air Races, named that year "On to Los Angeles". The race started in New York and terminated in Los Angeles. Below, from his NASM dossier, Ballough poses with this Laird (registered NX7086, S/N 166, race number 40). Note the similarity in his sweater between this image and the one next below.

Eddie Ballough, ca. 1928
Eddie Ballough, ca. 1928

Below, courtesy of site visitor Roger Holden, a pair of photos of Ballough and his Laird taken September 12, 1928, just a day after his visited Tucson.

Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)
Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)

.Below, the caption for the photograph above. Ballough had mechanical problems in Yuma, AZ just after he left Tucson.

Caption, Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)
Caption, Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)


Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)
Caption, Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)


Caption, Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)
Caption, Eddie Ballough With Laird, September 12, 1928 (Source: Holden)

Ballough and and his passenger Dickinson were participating in the Class B cross-country event when they passed through Tucson. Their second landing on September 21,1928 was from Los Angeles eastbound to El Paso, TX. They were almost certainly on their way back to Chicago after the race.

Ballough & Dickinson, 1928

Photo, above, shows Ballough, left, with passenger Dickinson at an unidentified location. Charles D. Dickinson was, at age 71, President of the Aero Club of Illinois as well as the oldest licensed pilot in the United States.

Popular Aviation, October, 1933 (Source: PA)



Again, the pair was plagued with problems. Although they led over much of the route, as the Laird flew over Yuma the engine failed. They made a safe emergency landing. A new engine was flown to Yuma. The local (undated) paper reported Ballough as saying there is, "...nothing harder to do than to change a motor in a plane 5 in the afternoon and 4 in the morning in Yuma, Ariz...." In the morning they continued to Los Angeles to again place second behind John Livingston, completing the race in 23 hours 16 minutes and 24 seconds, about 20 minutes behind Livingston.

At left, from Popular Aviation (PA) magazine, October, 1933, is an article that highlights Dickinson. This article has him described as the oldest licensed pilot in 1933 at age 75.

Frolic Card









Nevertheless, there was opportunity to "frolic" with other professional pilots in Los Angeles, as the guest card above, right states.

In 1930 Ballough joined Eastern Air Lines, where he became a million miler captain flying DC-3s between Atlanta and Chicago. In 1940 he developed health problems which denied him his medical certificate. He was let go by Eastern.

E.E. Ballough died of heart failure on May 19, 1948.





Dossier 2.1.39

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 03/04/06 REVISED: 03/22/06, 01/12/09, 05/12/10, 07/09/13, 06/25/14

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