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November, 1931 U.S. AIR SERVICES

Transatlantic Flights, 1931


During the course of the past summer, a total of nineteen men of various ages turned their back on mothers, wives, sweethearts--and creditors, and started aerial journeys over what the reporters are pleased to call the trackless wastes of the Atlantic.  Everyone of these men landed safely on the opposite shore, thus completing a safety record of 100%, and demonstrating in a remarkable manner the increasing safety of transatlantic travel by plane.  Three of the young men of this group, Johanssen, Rody, and the Portuguese, Viega, the only flyers forced down before reaching shore, seemingly in an effort to prove the safety of the landplane over the forces of adversity, floated around on the ocean on top of the wings and cabin of a Junkers plane for six days, before being picked up off the coast of Newfoundland by a small steamer.

Unusual is the fact that six of the flights mentioned above were made in landplanes, all of which depended on a single motor.  If the ocean crossing has proved as safe as this for single-motored landplanes, one can realize that with multi-motored seaplanes and flying boats it is even safer.

The recent splendid Pacific crossing of Pangborn and Herndon from Japan to the United States emphasizes the admirable safety record which has been made also over the Atlantic waters this summer.

Contrast this summer's record of nineteen flyers crossing the Atlantic without fatality, with the record of the year 1927.  Of the twenty-three men and women attempting to fly the ocean that year, seventeen of them found death, instead of fame and success over the waves of the Atlantic.

Nineteen hundred and thirty-one also offers a favorable contrast with former years in the matter of the distances of the flights.  Whereas in '27, flyers were finishing their journeys in England and France, with one flight getting as far as Germany; this year flyers using more powerful motors were landing not only in England and Germany, but in Hungary and Turkey as well, thus proving the theory that with heavier motors, flyers can travel greater distances without refueling.  This will lead next year to payload flights across the Atlantic.

Evidently we are a whole lot more desirous of seeing Europe than Europe is of seeing us, for six of the flights were Europeward and only two of the flights were toward America.

CONSIDERING the flights individually, the most interesting one by far, from a scientific aviation point of view, was the attempted flight of Parker Cramer and Oliver Pacquette from Detroit to Copenhagen, which resulted in the death of both men after they had safely reached Europe and had set out from the Shetland Islands for Copenhagen.  They evidently met death through no fault of motor or plane, but undoubtedly because they were flying through a hurricane area, according to weather reports.

On this trip a Diesel motor was used for the first time on a transocean flight.  Many believe that the Diesel motor is the answer to the question how to carry a payload across the Atlantic.  A Diesel motor of, say, 225 h.p. is said to have a cruising range 35% greater than a gasoline motor of similar horsepower.  In addition, the fuel expense is much less.  Also the fire hazard from fuel is eliminated.

The route which Cramer followed was the northernmost ever flown from America to Europe, and because of the shortness of the hops along it, is thought by some to be the best one for carrying a payload between America and Europe.

Cramer was the only one of the Atlantic Ocean flyers this summer to use pontoons.  Pontoons, because of their added safety value, are of course much more desirable than a landing gear.

Temporarily extending our study to cover also the Pacific Ocean, we believe that the next most important flight from a scientific viewpoint, was that of Colonel Lindbergh, accompanied by Mrs. Lindbergh, to China.  The reasons for its importance are:

1st. He was proving that a motor of as high as 575 h.p., the biggest air-cooled motor ever used on the an ocean flight, was practical for this purpose.

2nd. He was proving the practicability of the northern Pacific route which had only been flown westward before by the U. S. Army Air Corps, in 1924.

3rd. He was proving the practicability of pontoons for overseas travel at a time when pontoons are experiencing very little use in these flights.

The best flight across the Atlantic was undoubtedly that of Boardman and Polando from New York to Istanbul, Turkey, in the 300 h.p. Wright Whirlwind Bellanca.  Keeping very close to their direct course, they not only broke the world's distance record, setting the mark at the remarkable distance of 5,011 miles, but they landed at their destination designated beforehand; something that the majority of their rivals could not do.  Flying 5,000 miles and then landing at that particular field at which you aimed from 5,000 miles

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