National Geographic : 1924 Jul
THE NON-STOP FLIGHT ACROSS AMERICA strain had been far greater than in the endurance flight. The question of physi cal fatigue was the only factor to be con sidered in the endurance flight-flying 35 hours without rest or sleep. There was no danger to be considered, and the mind was relaxed and at ease. The non-stop flight was filled with con tinual danger and uncertainty. The brain was constantly wide awake and alert, and there was considerable nervous strain and anxiety, which in itself was very tiring, combined with the actual muscular exer tion of handling the big plane. PLANNING FOR A THIRD ATTEMPT When Kelly and I stepped out of the T-2 in Indianapolis we did not do much talking about transcontinental non-stop flights. We were through. Any man who was foolish enough to want our job was welcome to it. Never, never again for us! Neither one said much, but we did a lot of thinking, and decided in our own minds that transcontinental non-stop flights were good things to keep away from. We were entirely willing for some one else to take our place. We wanted to forget it. We flew over to Dayton and obtained a couple of days' rest. Then, without any warning, Kelly put the map of the United States up on the wall, and before we knew it we were planning a new route across the continent. The experience of the first trip con vinced us that the proper direction, if the big obstacle of the prevailing head wind could be overcome, was from east to west. As previously stated, our reason for originally starting from the Pacific coast was the fact that there was a pre vailing wind from west to east of 22 miles per hour, although the distance in travel ing from the west was very much longer, due to the existence of high mountains along the Pacific coast and because it was necessary to follow the low parts of the continent in choosing the route. After arrival in San Diego it was found that this helping wind, when it existed, would invariably blow into an area of bad weather. On our first attempts the high eleva tions occurred when the plane still re tained its extremely heavy load of gaso- line, making it necessary to retrace our course twice, and in one case lose 45 minutes hovering about, waiting for gas oline to be consumed, with the resultant lessening of weight before the plane could cross a high elevation in New Mexico. Appreciating these facts after landing at Indianapolis, we again talked with the weather forecaster in Washington and learned that during the last two weeks of April of each year there is a peculiar weather condition, called a Hudson Bay High, which reverses the wind direction across the continent and instead of blow ing from west to east, it then blows from east to west. This condition is caused by a very large high-pressure area occurring and spreading over the vicinity of Hud son Bay. One, two, or possibly three occur each year (see map, page 4). THE WORLD'S DURATION RECORD OFFICIALLY SMASHED As our duration record at San Diego (see pages 17 to 25) had not been ac cepted by the International Association, and two Frenchmen had captured the world's duration record by remaining in the air for thirty-four hours, in order to regain this record for the Army Air Service, it was decided to repeat our en durance flight at Dayton during the win ter. Winter is no time to make airplane duration flights, and Dayton days and nights are not the mild, clear ones of San Diego. We made three attempts during the winter. On the first attempt the mayor and influential citizens of Dayton were out to bid us Godspeed, the movies took pictures, we were slapped on the back, and many goodbyes were said, as we climbed into the ship, to be gone for two days. We waved to the multitude, "gave her the gun," rolled about 50 feet, and stuck tight in the mud up to the hubs. It was an anticlimax and made Kelly and me feel foolish. On the second attempt we got off the ground with an experimental high com pression engine and remained in the air, with a temperature of eight degrees above zero, in very bad weather, for approxi mately eight hours, landing at 12:30 a. m., in a snowstorm, with a practically dead engine and Io,ooo pounds of weight.