The first flight from the U.S. to Hawaii was accomplished by Lt. Albert F. Hegenberger and Lt. Lester J. Maitland on June 28-29, 1927. The flight left Oakland, Calif. on June 28 and arrived at Wheeler Field, Honolulu, Hawaii, 25 hours and 50 minutes later. The flight covered approximately 2,400 miles.
The plane was an Atlantic-Fokker C-2 named Bird of Paradise, specially modified at Wright Field for this particular flight. Although this was the greatest distance ever flown over open sea up to that time, the real significance of the flight was the high degree of navigational accuracy employed to find such a "pinpoint" destination in the vast Pacific. It marked the beginning of an era in Air Corps application of new methods, equipment and training in dead reckoning and celestial navigation.
The aircraft (S/N 26-202) was the first C-2 ordered; however, it was fitted with a larger wing and extra fuel tanks for the long flight and became the last C-2 actually delivered to the Army. The standard 63-inch wing was replaced by a 71-inch wing built by Atlantic using the center section developed for the Atlantic XLB-2 (Light Bomber). The aircraft was also equipped with a radio compass and a directional radio receiver, but both failed shortly after take off from Oakland -- forcing the crew to rely on dead reckoning for navigation.
For their historic flight, Hegenberger and Maitland were awarded the Mackay Trophy for 1927.
The Bird of Paradise remained in service in Hawaii as a transport plane for about 10 years. In the late 1930s the aircraft was disassembled and shipped to the Air Corps Museum at Wright Field. The aircraft was destroyed in 1944 because of a critical shortage of storage space needed for the war effort. The USAF has a few artifacts from the Bird of Paradise in its collection, including a main landing gear wheel and tire and a stool used by the crew to "shoot" the sun (or stars) during position checks with a sextant.
C-2 Bird of Paradise
Specially modified C-2
TECHNICAL NOTES: Engines: Three Wright J-5 radials of 220 hp each Maximum speed: 116 mph Cruising speed: Approx. 100 mph Range: 2,500+ miles (fully fueled for the California to Hawaii flight) Service ceiling: 12,500 ft. Span: 71 ft. 2 in. Length: 48 ft. 6 in. Height: 12 ft. 6 in. Weight: 18,000 lbs. gross weight Cargo/passenger capacity: Passenger compartment was used for extra fuel tanks Crew: Two (pilot and navigator) Serial number: 26-202