A Navigational Landmark


Today in History, June 29: 1927 – Five weeks after Charles Lindbergh’s much more famous flight, Army Air Corps Lieutenants Lester Maitland and Albert Hegenberger completed the first trans-Pacific flight from San Francisco to Hawaii. They traveled over 2400 miles over ocean, using instruments to find their way to an island, as opposed to Lindbergh’s 3600 miles to find a continent. They used a Fokker Tri-Motor for their 25+ hour flight so that they would still have power if they lost an engine. The two men had spent the previous decade developing the navigation technology for the flight and repeatedly lobbying their superiors for the opportunity to test it. Both would continue to be heroes in WWII.

Disaster, A Nation Mourns

Today in History, March 31: 1931 – As TWA Flight 599, a Fokker F.10 Tri-Motor wings it’s way over Kansas between Kansas City and Wichita, the structure of one of those wings fails, and shears off. The aircraft immediately crashed into the prairie, taking the lives of all eight passengers and crew. Included in the Reaper’s tally that day was a celebrated American hero. The famous player and most winning coach of Notre Dame’s football team, who led his team to morality as well as victory, Knute Rockne. The entire nation mourned as if a President had died; and the President paid tribute as Knute’s home nation of Norway knighted him. The airline industry was forever changed; TWA nearly went under and aircraft safety became a priority.