Learn Flutter Framework by Google to Build Beautiful Apps. Learn App Development on FlutterCampus

First Flight Around the World is Completed

First aerial circumnavigation

First Flight Around the World is Completed

The first aerial circumnavigation of the world was completed in 1924 by four aviators from an eight-man team of the United States Army Air Service, the precursor of the United States Air Force. The 175-day journey covered over 26,345 miles (42,398 km). The team generally traveled east to west, around the northern-Pacific Rim, through to South Asia and Europe and back to the United States. Airmen Lowell H. Smith and Leslie P. Arnold, and Erik H. Nelson and John Harding Jr. made the trip in two single-engined open-cockpit Douglas World Cruisers (DWC) configured as floatplanes for most of the journey. Four more flyers in two additional DWC began the journey but their aircraft crashed or were forced down. All airmen survived.

Four aircraft, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and New Orleans, left Clover Field, Santa Monica, California, on 17 March 1924, for Sand Point, Washington, near Seattle, Washington, the official start of the journey. The individual aircraft was formally christened with waters from their namesake cities, prior to departure from Seattle where Boeing Company technicians configured the aircraft for the long over-water portion of the flight, by exchanging wheels for pontoon floats.

On 6 April 1924, just 13 days after the British, under Stuart-MacLaren, set off from England in the opposite direction, they left Seattle for Alaska. Shortly after departing Prince Rupert Island on 15 April, the lead aircraft Seattle, flown by Martin with Harvey (the only fully qualified mechanic in the flight), blew a three-inch hole in its crankcase and was forced to land on Portage Bay. A replacement engine having been provided, the crew resumed their journey on 25 April, in an attempt to catch up with the other three aircraft awaiting in Dutch Harbor, but which ended in failure on 30 April when the Seattle crashed in dense fog into a mountainside near Port Moller on the Alaska Peninsula. It was destroyed in the crash. The crew survived six harrowing days in the elements before finding shelter in an unoccupied cabin on Moller Bay and made the cannery four days later.

On 31 August, they reached Labrador, Canada, a fuel-pump failure in Chicago having been overcome by four hours of hand pumping by Arnold. After the original prototype, now named Boston II, arrived in Pictou, Nova Scotia, the original Boston crew of Wade and Ogden were able to join the other two aircraft to fly on to Boston (where pontoon floats were exchanged for wheels again) and Washington DC. After a hero's welcome in the capital, the three Douglas World Cruisers flew to the West Coast, on a multi-city tour, stopping, on 22 September, at Rockwell Field, San Diego, for new engines and then arrived in Santa Monica to a welcoming crowd of 100 to 250 thousand. Their final landing in Seattle was on 28 September 1924.

The trip had taken 363 flying hours 7 minutes, over 175 calendar days, and covered 26,345 miles (42,398 km), succeeding where the British, Portuguese, French, Italians and Argentinians failed. The Douglas Aircraft Company adopted the motto, "First Around the World – First the World Around". The American team had greatly increased their chances of success by using several aircraft and pre-positioning large caches of fuel, spare parts, and other support equipment along the route. They often had several US Navy destroyers deployed in support. At prearranged waypoints, the World Flight's aircraft had their engines changed five times and new wings fitted twice.

Join with us on social media to see our updates on your feed.