LINDBERGH DOES IT! TO PARIS IN 33-1/3 HOURS cried out the newspaper headlines on May 22, 1927. Lindbergh’s epic flight made front page headlines in papers all around the world.
We are all aware of the impact Lindbergh’s New York-to-Paris ?ight had on the public, but what other aviation events of the 1920s and 1930s were deemed of enough importance to garner headlines in the newspapers?
Scanning through the newspaper headlines from this time period gives some clues as to the type of front-page coverage that aviation received back then.
Feb. 22, 1922: GIANT ARMY DIRIGIBLE WRECKED
Norfolk, Va. — Victims perish when ROMA bursts into ?ames after fall; collapse of rudder causes tragedy on short trial ?ight.
At Hampton Roads, Virginia, in what was the greatest disaster to befall Army aeronautics, the Italian-built semi-rigid airship ROMA’s structure broke up during high-speed ?ight and went out of control. Apparently the substitution of two Liberty motors for two of the six lighter Ansoldo engines subjected the airship to stresses for which it was not designed, resulting in tragedy. This incident gave Italian airship building a bad reputation from which it did not recover until the Italian-built R-1 NORGE ?ew to the North Pole in 1926.
May 10, 1926: BYRD FLIES TO NORTH POLE
Kings Bay, Spitzbergen — America’s claim to the North Pole was cinched tonight when, after a ?ight of 15 hours and 51 minutes, Commander Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett, his pilot, returned to announce that they had ?own to the Pole.
Flying from Spitzenbergen Island in a Fokker F.VIIA-3m trimotor named “Josephine Ford” after one of the sponsors’ (Edsel Ford) daughter, Byrd and Bennett ?ew a round trip to the North Pole just beating out the airship NORGE, which left from Spitzbergen, Norway, two days later.
Since the day of the event there have been studies doubting Byrd’s reaching the North Pole. For one thing, the Fokker would have had to average over 93 mph to make the trip in the time it was gone.
May 12, 1926: NORGE FLIES OVER NORTH POLE
Reports her feat to Times by wireless; Going on over the Arctic wastes to Alaska. First message ever received from the North Pole.
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the expedition which made the ?rst airship ?ight over the North Pole. The Italian-built airship ?ew from Spitzbergen Island over the Pole and continued on to Alaska. Other crewmembers included an American, Lincoln Ellsworth, and the airship’s designer, Umberto Nobile.
June 19, 1928: AMELIA EARHART FLIES ATLANTIC
Burry Port, Carmathenshire, South Wales -— The ?rst woman to cross the Atlantic successfully by air, Miss Amelia Earhart, Boston settlement worker, alighted in the seaplane “Friendship” here this morning on the broad expanse of Loughor Estuary, after a ?ight of 20 hours and 40 minutes.
Amelia Earhart was a passenger in a Fokker trimotor piloted by Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon. They arrived with enough fuel to continue on to Southampton, but fog forced a stopover.
Nov. 30, 1929: BYRD SAFELY FLIES TO SOUTH POLE
Little America, Antarctica — Conqueror of two poles by air, Commander Richard E. Byrd ?ew into camp at 10:10 this morning, having been gone 18 hours and 59 minutes.
Flying a Ford Trimotor named “Floyd Bennett” after Byrd’s pilot on the North Pole ?ight, the ?ight over the South Pole was the culmination of an expedition that had begun the previous August and involved a crew of more than 40 people.
Aug. 16, 1935: CRASH KILLS ROGERS, POST
Point Barrow, Alaska — Death ended the arctic aerial trip of Will Rogers, famous comedian, and Wiley Post, round the world flyer, when their plane crashed 15 miles south of here at 8:18 p.m. Thursday.
On a flight to Russia, Post’s plane crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska, and both were killed. The pontoons that were ordered for their Lockheed Orion were late in arriving in Seattle, so a heavier pair were attached, making the plane nose-heavy. This led to tragedy when the engine quit on takeoff from a lake near Point Barrow.
May 7, 1937: HINDENBERG BURNS IN LAKEHURST CRASH
Lakehurst, N .J . — The zeppelin Hindenberg was destroyed by fire and explosions here at 7:28 tonight with a loss of 33 known dead and unaccounted for out of its 97 passengers and crew.
The accident happened just as the dirigible was about to dock four hours after ?ying over New York City on the last leg of its ?rst transatlantic voyage of the year. Previously the Hindenberg had made 10 round trips across the Atantic in 1936.
July 14, 1938: AROUND THE WORLD IN FOUR DAYS
New York — Howard Hughes, millionaire sportsman who ?ies “for the fun of it,” and his four companions at noon Thursday were nearing Floyd Bennett airport here with a new record for girdling the globe. They virtually clipped three days off the record set in 1933 by the late Wiley Post, who flew around the world in seven days. Using a Lockheed Model 14, Hughes and his crew made an around-the-world ?ight in a record 91 hours and 14 minutes. With the sophisticated radio equipment on the plane the crew was able to be in contact with the ground station in New York for most of the trip.
Aug. 5, 1938: CORRIGAN CHEERED BY A MILLION
New York — Douglas Corrigan, that daring young man of the ?ying machine, rode up Broadway Friday, cool and brash and grinning infectiously as thousands upon thousands cheered him for flying across the Atlantic by “mistake.”
Douglas Corrigan, ?ying an aged 1929 Curtiss Robin, took off from New York on July 19, 1938, supposedly to ?y to his home in California. He arrived 28 hours and 13 minutes later in Dublin, Ireland. His ?ight was the sixth successful west-to-east solo crossing of the Atlantic — accidental or not.
From good news to bad, the front page coverage of these stories reflected the public’s growing interest in aviation developments. With flights across oceans, over the poles and around the world, aviation was a daily part of the news in the 1920s and 1930s.
Dennis Parks is Curator Emeritus of Seattle’s Museum of Flight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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