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Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test

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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