Viewing page 32 of 69

August, 1931
U.S. AIR SERVICES
21
[[image- three airplanes taking off]]
National Air Tour Effectively Proves Aircraft Efficiency
DON MOCKLER


THE outstanding commercial aeronautical event of this year, the National Air Tour, roared triumphantly across the finish line at the Ford Airport, Dearborn, Saturday afternoon, July 25. After twenty-two days of battling rough weather and other obstacles which tried the patience and endurance not only of planes and motors but of the personnel as well, the finishing planes returned home with an enviable record of accomplishment in efficiency to their credit.
Harry Russell, winner of the 1930 Tour, repeated this year, his score totaling 63,764.3, as against 58,813 for his nearest rival, James Smart, flying the other Ford entry. Smart, while flying the faster of the two trimotor jobs, had a figure of merit of 12.40 as compared with 13.97 for Russell.
The figure of merit upon which the points are based, is derived from a formula which gives the leg score as equaling the Department of Commerce useful load divided by the Department of Commerce rated horsepower, plus 160 divided by the stick time plus unstick time plus 10 multiplied by the leg speed. Therefore, a figure of merit of 15 on a ship making 100 m.p.h. on a leg would result in a leg score of 1,500.
More than 10,000 people were awaiting the return of the flyers at Ford Airport, where a diversified program had been arranged, including the start of the Detroit News balloon race. 
First across the finish line was the Buhl Airsedan, piloted by Jack Story with Walter Carr as navigator. This ship had left Akron earlier than the rest to permit Story's broadcasting the arrival of the tour contestants. Soon came the two Fords, Russell leading by less than fifty feet. The Warner-powered Gee Bee sportster, winner of the Great Lakes Trophy, flashed across next, followed by Eddie Schneider. The two Birds, the Great Lakes and the Aeronca

TOTAL POINT SCORED BY ALL
Contesting Planes
[[table]]
Plane and Pilot | H.P | Fig. of Merit | Score
_____________________________________________
Ford-H. Russell | 1175 | 13.97 | 63,764.3
Ford-J. Smart | 1260 | 12.40 | 53,813.0
Cessna-E. Schneider | 110 | 13.667 | 44,343.7
Gee Bee-L. Bayles | 110 | 9.50 | 44,106.3
Buhl Airsedan-J. Story | 300 | 10.17 | 42,910.0
Bird-W. Lancaster | 125 | 12.68 | 40,992.0
Bird-L. Gehlbach | 125 | 11.93 | 40,247.9
Stinson, Jr.-E. Stinson | 215| 10.51 | 38,237.0
Great Lakes-J. Meehan | 90 | 11.29 | 36,167.2
Aeronca-G. Dickson | 36 | 15.62 | 32,514.9
           (Following planes withdrawn)
Buhl "Pup"-C. Sugg | 45 | 10.66 | 1,294.1
Buhl "Pup"-W. Henderson | 45 | 10.42 | 5,140.8
Mercury Chic-H. Mummert | 110 | 11.32 | 4,362.0
Bird Cabin-L. Flo | 125 | 14.43 | 2,479.0
[[/table]]
came in closely. The Stinson Junior, piloted by Eddie Stinson, had made a forced landing at Toledo due to engine trouble, and was forced to install a new motor to complete the tour on time.
For many reasons the 1931 tour was the most arduous of any of the seven which have been conducted. The business depression had exerted its influence in making it difficult for Manager Ray Collins to prepare a satisfactory itinerary through the cities which could afford the necessary financing. However, his end of the job was well done and the tour started off on July 4 on an itinerary which was to carry it to one province of Canada and eighteen states, extending as far west as Corpus Christi, Texas. The itinerary follows:
[[table]]
                   |       City       | Miles From Preceding City
Saturday, July 4   | Walkerville, Ontario | 15
                   | LeRoy, N. Y.         | 260
Sunday, July 5     | Binghampton, N. Y.   | 123
Monday, July 6     | Bradford, Pa.        | 145
Tuesday, July 7    | Pittsburgh, Pa.      | 123
                   | Wheeling, W. Va.     | 49
Wednesday, July 8  | Columbus, Ohio       | 120
                   | Huntington, W. Va.   | 110
Thursday, July 9   | Middlesboro, Ky.     | 145
                   | Knoxville, Tenn.     | 45
Friday, July 10    | Murfreesboro, Tenn.  | 138
                   | Memphis, Tenn.       | 225
Saturday, July 11  | Birmingham, Ala.     | 215
Sunday, July 12    | Montgomery, Ala.     | 84
Monday, July 13    | Gulfport, Miss.      | 213
                   | New Orleans, La.     | 67
Tuesday, July 14   | Shreveport, La.      | 279
Wednesday, July 15 | Houston, Tex.        | 214
Thursday, July 16  | Corpus Christi, Tex. | 186
                   | San Antonio, Tex.    | 132
Friday, July 17    | Fort Worth, Tex.     | 238
Saturday, July 18  | Fort Worth, Tex.     |
Sunday, July 19    | Oklahoma City, Okla. | 190
                   | Ponca City, Okla.    | 89
Monday, July 20    | Chanute, Kansas      | 112
                   | Kansas City, Mo.     | 107
Tuesday, July 21   | Lincoln, Neb.        | 163
Wednesday, July 22 | Omaha, Neb.          | 50
Thursday, July 23  | St. Joseph, Mo.      | 118
                   | Davenport, Iowa      | 253
Friday, July 24    | Joliet, Ill.         | 128
                   | Kalamazoo, Mich.     | 137
Saturday, July 25  | Akron, Ohio          | 225
                   | Detroit, Mich.       | 118
[[/table]]
THE tour got under way with fourteen contestants and ten accompanying ships. Ten contestants finished the route, with nine accompanying ships still in line. Four of the contestants had suffered mishaps, one fatal, when Charles Sugg died in Wheeling, W. Va., of injuries sustained when No. 1, a Buhl Bull Pup crashed just after taking off. No. 2, also a Bull Pup, was damaged when its pilot, Walter Henderson, ran out of fuel and was forced down. He was slightly injured.This ship was also withdrawn. A Mercury Chic, piloted by Harvey Mummert, was damaged on the hop between Bradford and Wheeling, but rejoined the tour, only to be again forced down on the hop from Huntington to Knoxville, after which he withdrew. The Bird cabin job,
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.