Ivy Baldwin

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Ivy Baldwin in 1894

Ivy Baldwin (born William Ivy July 31, 1866 – October 8, 1953) was an American balloonist, aeronaut and high-wire performer. He is credited with being the first aviator to be shot down during wartime in the U.S.[1] during the Spanish–American War.[2]


In 1877 he performed in Thayer Dollar Circus as a tightrope walker. He later joined with Thomas and Sam Baldwin—billed as "The Baldwin Brothers"—performing high wire acts as well as balloon ascensions and parachuting. The Baldwin Brothers performed using handmade balloons filled with hot air which would ascend to 2500 feet as Ivy Baldwin performed acrobatics and would parachute to the ground.[3] He became a solo performer in 1893 and joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps the following year as a Sergeant in the position of piloting and maintaining their demonstration balloon.

In 1898 he was the pilot of the hot air balloon that gave U.S. troops location information of Spanish snipers before the Battle of San Juan Hill. The balloon was shot down on June 30, 1898, and landed in the Aguadores River. Baldwin was later honorably discharged and he took fragments of the balloon with him which he would sell when he performed, dubbing himself "the air hero of the late War".[1]:194 He celebrated his eighty-second birthday by tightrope walking 125 feet above a canyon formed by the South Boulder Creek in Colorado, a crossing he'd made 80 times in 40 years.[4]

He was the first inductee to the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame in 1969. They stated that since his early years he had “a sincere urge to get into the air, one way or the other.” The ceremony noted that he was also "the first person to fly a powered 'air craft' in the state of Colorado" since he had made a brief flight "in a self-designed and self-built powered dirigible-type balloon".[3] He was selected to be in the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame for being "the first person to successfully fly an airplane in the State of Nevada." which he accomplished on June 23, 1910. [5]


  1. ^ a b Herst, Herman (2016). "Ivy Baldwin An Unknown Hero". Put A Stamp On It!. CreateSpace. pp. 190–185. ISBN 9781940197388.
  2. ^ "Ivy Baldwin". Colorado Aviation Historical Society. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b Gaunt, Ken. "Daredevil Ivy Baldwin". Airport Journals. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  4. ^ Berman, Eliza. "Meet the 82-Year-Old Tightrope Artist Who Walked the Wire Long Before Philippe Petit". Time. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  5. ^ "William A. Ivy (Ivy Baldwin)". Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame. Retrieved 21 September 2016.

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