The First Flight Around the World
The first flight around the world started on April 6, 1924, and left Seattle, Washington. The trip ended roughly 25,000 miles later, back in Seattle, on September 28, 1924.
The trip was started by four specially made airplanes, piloted by Major Frederick Martin, Lieutenant Lowell H. Smith, 1st Lieutenant Leigh P. Wade and Lieutenant Erik Nelson. The airplanes were built by the Douglas Aircraft Company which was awarded the contract just 45 days before they delivered the first airplane. The airplanes were specially equipped with wheel landing gear that could be changed depending on the location, and were also especially equipped with pontoons. The airplanes were named Seattle, Chicago, Boston and New Orleans.
In preparation for the flight, the United States Navy delivered thirty spare engines to various places around the world. The Navy, with the help of Royal Air Force, delivered thousands of gallons of fuel to various places around the world, before the flight ever commenced.
Trouble started from the beginning, with Douglas delivering the last airplane only days ahead of the departure. The initial start was delayed several times, due to weather. Just twenty four days into the flight, the first plane was lost as the Seattle crashed in dense fog near Port Moller, Alaska. The crew was not found until they walked to Port Moller, arriving on May 10, 1924.
The remaining three planes continued on their flight path. First, the planes traveled to Japan, before arriving in Southeast Asia, India, England before finally arriving in Ireland. Trouble continued to plague the planes, throughout the flight and another of the original planes was lost on August 3, 1924, when the Boston was forced down due to oil problems. While trying to tow the plane for repairs, the plane sunk. The crew continued in another plane, which was called Boston II.
The crews arrived back in the United States on September 8, 1924, and the United States was becoming increasingly excited that they would indeed fly around the world. In the United States, the crews first stopped at Mere Point, Maine. The crews had hoped to arrive in Boston, but severe weather forced them to land at Mere Point, instead.
For September, the crews made various stops at cities in the United States before returning to Seattle, on September 28, 1924. The flight took 354 hours and forty seven minutes to make and for most of the airplane the total mileage logged were 25, 180 miles.