With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many are eagerly anticipating what kinds of diverse floats and balloons the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature. While these larger-than-life balloons of our favorite characters have been a Thanksgiving tradition for 89 years, there have been quite a few shocking, incidents that occurred at past parades. While we’re not expecting anything to happen this week, it was a fun project to research vintage photographs and learn about various safety measures that resulted from the accidents.
From plane crashes to deflations, read about these crazy mishaps (and hope that none happen this year).
10. A Plane Crashes Into a Tom-Cat Balloon, 1932
The Tom Cat Balloon from the 1932 Thanksgiving parade. Image via Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The student, Annette Gipson from Brooklyn, was flying the plane with her teacher at 5,000 feet when she noticed the balloon in her path and decided to fly right into it. In the book Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, upon seeing the balloon she was reported to have said, “I think I’ll have a piece of its neck.”
After making contact, the balloon wounded around the left wing and the plane spiraled towards the ground, causing Gipson to turn off the ignition to avoid catching flames. Below her, hundreds of people looked up and watched the out-of-control plane fall in horror. At one point Gipson almost fell out of the plane when the cabin door flew open, but her foot got caught and she was able to heave herself back in.
Fortunately, her instructor switched seats with Gipson in time and managed to land the plane where it was supposed to at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. An investigation by the Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce found that Gipson and her instructor violated federal rules forbidding stunting over densely populated areas.
Despite this mishap, Gipson eventually became an accomplished “aviatrix” who made big headlines in the newspapers.