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Home > Fact Sheets > First Round-the-World Flight


Posted 7/8/2009 Printable Fact Sheet
Douglas World Cruiser
Douglas World Cruiser. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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One of the most sensational avation events of the 1920s was the Air Service round-the-world flight in 1924. Four Douglas World Cruiser airplanes departed Seattle, Wash., on April 6, 1924, heading westward for Asia via Alaska. The planes encountered the worst type of flying weather -- excessive head winds, rain, ice, snow and fog, but by May 9, three had reached Attu Island in the Aleutians. The fourth airplane, the Seattle, had crashed into a mountain on April 30 while flying through fog, but its crew, Maj. F.L. Martin and Sgt. A.L. Harvey, were uninjured and walked to safety.

The remaining three planes continued on, changing back and forth from pontoons to wheels as determined by whether they were to be flying over land or water. By Aug. 3, they were heading for Iceland from the British Isles when the Liberty engine in the Boston lost all oil pressure, and the plane was forced to land at sea. Unfortunately, high waves damaged the Boston excessively and it had to be sunk.

The New Orleans and the Chicago continued westward, arriving in Nova Scotia where the original prototype DWC, named the Boston II, joined them for the remainder of the flight. The three planes reached Seattle on Sept. 28, 1924, completing an aerial trip of approximately 26,000 miles in 371 hours flying time.

For their tremendous achievement in flying around the world, the World Flyers were awarded the coveted Mackay Trophy for 1924.

The following links are a virtual exhibit chronicling the progress of the world flight. Rather than just presenting facts and figures, we've tried to make the story more enjoyable by serializing it into a daily newspaper-style format and using the facts within the stories themselves. In many cases, the actual reports written by the world flyers themselves have been only slightly altered from the original (changed to present tense to match the daily format). Use the following links to view more information about the first round-the-world flight.

Preparation and Testing (March 17 to April 5, 1924)
Division 1: Seattle, Wash., to Attu, Aleutian Islands (April 6 to May 14, 1924)
Division 2: Attu, Aleutian Islands, to Kagoshima, Japan (May 15 to June 3, 1924)
Division 3: Kagoshima, Japan, to Calcutta, India (June 4-30, 1924)
Division 4: Calcutta, India, to Constantinople, Turkey (July 1-11, 1924)
Division 5: Constantinople, Turkey, to London, England (July 12-16, 1924)
Division 6: London, England, to Boston, Mass. (July 17 to Sept. 7, 1924)
Division 7: Across the United States (Sept. 8-28, 1924)

Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.

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