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Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test

Lt. Col. Harold Hartney, Commanding Officer of the 1st Pursuit Group in France in 1918, climbs into entry No. 11, a captured Fokker D. VII (still bearing German World War I insignia), in Rock Island, Ill., on Oct. 12, 1919. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. Col. Harold Hartney, Commanding Officer of the 1st Pursuit Group in France in 1918, climbs into entry No. 11, a captured Fokker D. VII (still bearing German World War I insignia), in Rock Island, Ill., on Oct. 12, 1919. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Items from Sgt. Lee M. Parrish who participated in the 1919 Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test are on display in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Parrish flew in the rear seat of the DH-4 piloted by Lt. Harold H. George and served as the airplane's mechanic. The items were donated by Sgt. Parrish's widow, Mrs. Neta Parrish. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Items from Sgt. Lee M. Parrish who participated in the 1919 Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test are on display in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Parrish flew in the rear seat of the DH-4 piloted by Lt. Harold H. George and served as the airplane's mechanic. The items were donated by Sgt. Parrish's widow, Mrs. Neta Parrish. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In 1919 the Air Service initiated a project to test its men and planes to the utmost under various kinds of flying conditions over an extended distance. Two groups of aircraft were to leave New York and San Francisco at the same time on Oct. 8, fly to the opposite coasts of the U.S., and then return to their starting points. Most of the 63 planes were DH-4s but there were also other World War I types, such as the LePere, SE-5, Thomas-Morse, SPAD and even some captured German Fokker D. VIIs.

When the project ended on Oct. 31, approximately half the planes had completed the test, at a cost of 54 accidents and crashes and the loss of seven lives. The Air Service had learned a valuable lesson regarding the long-distance movement of aircraft -- it did not yet possess planes and equipment required for this type of mobility, nor were its pilots trained to fly under hazardous weather conditions.

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Related Fact Sheets
De Havilland DH-4
Eberhart SE-5E
Fokker D. VII
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