National Geographic : 1926 Apr
VOL. XLIX, No. 4 WASHINGTON APRIL, 1926 MlAGAZ [ E COPYRIGHT.1926. BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON O. C. IN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN EXPLORING THE VALLEY OF THE AMAZON IN A HYDROPLANE Twelve Thousand Miles of Flying Over the World's Greatest River and Greatest Forest to Chart the Unknown Parima River from the Sky BY CAPTAIN ALBERT W. STEVENS, U. S. ARMY AIR SERVICE With Illustrationsfrom Photographsby the Author AN'S conquest over Nature was never more forcefully asserted than when members of the Alex ander Hamilton Rice Scientific Expedi tion recently flew to the headwaters of the Parima River, in northwestern Brazil. The upper Amazon Basin is one of the last of the world's blind spots to succumb to the persevering curiosity of the ex plorer. For many years attempts had been made in vain to penetrate the dense jungles which cover it, and to navigate the seething rapids that block its rivers, but the undertaking has now been proved en tirely feasible from the air. Where the untrodden jungle presented a matted and almost impenetrable wall to men on foot, it surrendered its secrets readily to men in the sky. The hostile Indians who had hindered previous expe ditions could not obstruct a plane flying 3,000 feet above them, and no ground scout, however skillful, could match an aviator in ferreting out the easiest trails to be followed and forewarning of ob stacles to be met and overcome. Our hydroplane served as the eyes of the ex pedition. Our party assembled in Mangios, Brazil, on July 6, 1924, and consisted of Dr. Rice, director; Dr. Koch-Griinberg, ethnologist; Dr. George Shattuck, physician; Weld Arnold, cartographer; Charles C. Bull. assistant; John C. Couzens, engineer; Walter Hinton, airplane pilot; John E. Wilshusen, airplane mechanic; John W. Swanson and Thomas S. MacCaleb, radio-telegraphists; Hermann Dengler. draftsman; Silvino Santos, film operator; Ramundo Camara. assistant; and myself. as observer and aerial photographer. With the Indian porters and paddlers, our party numbered more than o00. The variety of professions represented on its staff suggests the variety of the ob jectives of the expedition. Dr. Rice set the following program: To survey and map the Rio Branco and its western affluent, the Rio Uraricoera. following the latter to its source in the Serra Parima, and to ascertain whether any passage existed between the head waters of this river and those of the Orinoco, thus tying this survey to the one carried out on the leader's 1919-20 ex pedition.