Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani - Flaming Balloon Ride August 17th, 1924 #freakyflinthistory

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

Flaming Balloon Ride August 17th, 1924

On August 17, 1924 hundreds of spectators filled Flint Park to watch the young daredevil, George Barker, perform a parachute drop from a hot air balloon.

Amongst the crowd was George’s bride of just two weeks. The crowd cheered when the balloon launched.  Once it reached three hundred feet George prepared for his jump. George climbed onto the railing of the balloon and waved to the crowd below.

Suddenly the crowd noticed with horror that George’s parachute had caught fire. Unaware of the flames George jumped from the balloon. The flames burned a hole through the bag and into his parachute. When he pulled the cord, nothing happened. George tumbled through the air until he landed head first into a tree.

The crowd quickly ran to help. After removing George from the tree they loaded him and his bride into one of the spectator’s cars and headed to Hurley Hospital. After examination from the doctors, it was determined that his neck was fatally broken. George lived only a few hours after arriving at the hospital. He died with his new bride by his side.  

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

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