NARROW ESCAPE OF LEILA ADAIR AT HAMILTON.
■ -*.' . BALLOON BURSTS IN MID-AIR.
Miss Leila Auaih gave the people of Hamilton sensational value for their money on Saturday afternoon (says the A uckland Herald). A crowd far larger than over gathers for local sports assembled on Saturday in and around Sydney Square. The greater part of the four streets round the square was crowded with vehicles of all kinds and equestrians from the country districts, while points of vantage wherever they could be obtained from rising ground in the viciuty, wore seized upon by women and children, to witness a sight few of them had seen before. A number of Maoris wore also in the crowd. At about a-quarter pastf our o'clock the balloon had filled. It had been fixed in position in the north-west corner of tho Square, immediately in front of the pavilhon, from the back of which a light westerly wind was blowing, so that there was no chance of its being carried over tlie river, which was to windward of it. It was clear from the direction of the wind that its course must be parallel with Cook-street, which runs straight from the Square half a mile towards the open country, and a large number of vehicles and horsemen so ranged themselves as to be able to follow it. The baloon rose gracefully from the ground at a quarter past four, with Miss Leila Adair, dressed in a suitable blue costume, seated on the trapeze bars, and ascended with a gentle motion to the eastward till it reached a height of several hundred feet, aiid the lady seemed no bigger than a child, when suddenly a cloud of black smoke began to pour out from the top and side, and at first the gereral opinion was that the baloon was on fire. It then, still veering eastward, began to descend slowly, and then more quickly, and as it neared the earth it became evident that the baloon had burst, as a rent could be seen in it almost from top to bottom, and the black smoke which welled from it was the heated air. It was clearly a question of time whether it would collapse in mid air, or last till it reached the ground. Its occupant hanging to the bars bolow evidently trusted to the latter, and made no attempt to leave it by the parachute there probably being neither room nor time to leave it by that means. It was by this time more than three-parts across the Square, and ataboutan altitude of from 100 to 150 feet. Crossing the Squaro and Firth-street on the east side ot it, the balloon swept on till it reached the hollow into which the public drain empties on the southern side of Cookstroot. There is a rough piece of ground here, and a large mud-hole into which the balloon, suddenly collapsing fell. Fortunately for its occupant, it so nearly touched the ground before reaching the top of the bank of the waterhole that she disentangled herself from it on the edge of the level ground, and immediately after the balloon completely collapsed in the mudhole alongside, from which it took several men to extricate it. It certainly was a narrow escapo, for had tho balloon lasted buoyant a few yards futhor and fallen into the water and collapsed while its occupant was still clinging to it, instead of on the top of the bank above the water-hole, she could not have got free and would not have been smothered beneath the weight of the canvas in the pool of muddy water. In the meantime a rush of carriages and horsemen h;id followed tho course of the balloon up Cook-street to the scene of the accident, some 17 or 18 chains from the point where the balloon started, and Mr Delaney, of Ohaupo, who was driving a two-horse buggy in which was the aeronaut's mother, was almost the fir.it to reach tho spot, and returned with Mish Adair to the pavilion in tho Square. Miss Adair, who Avas considerably excited by her adventure, then ascended the pavilion and addressed the crowd, which had gathered below expressing her regrot at the failure and hoping they would not think her a fraud, but the accident was one which could not have been foreseen and hud nearly cost her her life, as from the nature of the ground where it fell if tho balloon had struck the earth only a couple o£ yards father on, sho and it would have rolled down the bank of the water-holo and she would in all probability have not been iblo to extricate herself. She then offered up a short prayer to a merciful Providence for her ebcapu in whiJi Lo invited fchosa present to join.
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