"Fiasco" Revisited: The Air Corps & the 1934 Air Mail Episode.

By Air Power History

  • Release Date - Published: 2010-03-22
  • Book Genre: Engineering
  • Author: Air Power History
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"Fiasco" Revisited: The Air Corps & the 1934 Air Mail Episode. Air Power History read online review & book description:

Late on February 19, 1934, a brand new Douglas DC-1 named, "City of Los Angeles," took off from that city and headed east for Newark, New Jersey. The flight was a well-planned and well-covered publicity stunt intending to set a transcontinental transport speed record. It would also show off "the latest word" in air travel, with a plane that incorporated almost all of the aviation technologies for propeller driven aircraft. (1) The proposed flight was daring, as a storm was forecast over its terminus, just twenty minutes after the estimated arrival, if the aircraft took off at its announced departure time and if it made record breaking time. To highlight the event, the sleek, twin engine transport carried an unusual crew and passengers--newsmen and two of the three pilots were airline executives, one of whom was Eddie Rickenbacker, the leading American ace of World War I. Rickenbacker later wrote that "It was taking a great chance, but, in the light of what was happening to the entire air transport industry, it was a chance that we should take." (2) The flight went well, encountering mostly cross winds until it reached Ohio, where poor weather required the crew to use Columbus rather than Pittsburgh for its third and last refueling. The storms also forced the aircraft to climb above 18,000 feet to get over the weather and as the aircraft was unpressurized, mandated the use of oxygen by passengers and crew. The transport landed in Newark in the early afternoon after a flight (including ground time) of just over thirteen hours, cutting a remarkable six hours off the record set the previous year. Two hours later a fierce storm rolled into Newark. (3)

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