From the "Picket Line Post", July 17, 1908, p 6 col. 4
"IRA ALLEN, BLIND BALLOONIST, MADE 1,600 ASCENSIONS"
"That aerial navigation is a commercial as well as a scientific possibility is claimed
by Ira Allen, of Dansville [NY], a man who for fifty years has been before the American public as an aeronaut and performer
on a tight rope. Mr. Allen, after a strenuous life of sixty odd years, of which time, three years were spent in the
service of his country during the Civil War, is living a life of physical inactivity owing to a disability sustained while
in the war, resulting in total blindness."
"The experience of this ballooninst has never been duplicated by any aeronaut in this
country, as Mr Allen has made over sixteen hundred ascensions; it is estimated that several hundred thousand persons witnessed
the intrepid performers of the air."
"When seen recently, the balloonist was seated in a swing chiar in his yard on Franklin
Street, enjoying the balmy weather; asked if he believed that the practical airship was a possibility of the near future,
Mr, Allen gave an emphatic "yes". he holds however, that the present day builders of flying machines are not as yet,
on the right track. Mr. Allen believes he has the correct theory of aerial navigation and says that, were he given back
his sight, he would build an airship in which flights, thousands of miles in length could be made."
See his early patented design here: