On this day in history, April 6, 1924, four planes left Seattle, WA on the first around-the-world flight. The aircraft were built by Douglas Aircraft Company and were piloted by Major Frederick Martin, Lieutenant Lowell H. Smith, 1st Lieutenant Leigh P. Wade, and Lieutenant Erik Nelson. The Douglas World Cruiser (DWC) airplanes were named Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and New Orleans.
Before the flight took place, the U.S. Navy delivered 30 spare engines to various places around the world. Additionally, the Navy and Royal Air Force placed thousands of gallons of fuel at choice locations worldwide.
Unfortunately, one of the planes (Seattle) crashed in dense fog 24 days into the flight near Port Moller, Alaska. The crew was found when they arrived on foot in Port Moller on May 10. The Boston was also forced down on August 3 due to a loss of oil pressure while traveling between the British Isles and Iceland. The aircraft eventually sunk from damages incurred from high waves.
The New Orleans and Chicago were joined by the original prototype DWC, named the Boston II, in Nova Scotia for the rest of the flight. On September 28, the crews finally arrived back in Seattle after traveling approximately 26,000 miles.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense