National Geographic : 1949 Jul
Skyway Below the Clouds and Dayton, Ohio. As we looked down upon the busy countryside below, we wondered how much it had changed since then. Certainly there are now plenty of check points. Our course paralleled U. S. Route 40, one of the network of transcontinental highways which developed in the wake of the Lincoln Highway. When it was completed, in 1925, the Lincoln Highway became the first marked and mapped road extending from coast to coast. Like the Wright Way, it was planned and developed by an organization of private individuals, using their own time and funds. It did for the private motorist of the day what the Wright Way is designed to do for today's and the future's personal flyers. Over the Home of the Wright Brothers Within an hour we were over Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright brothers and of famous Wright Field, which we could see off to our right as we continued east toward Pittsburgh, still following U. S. 40 and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Near Pittsburgh the confusion of highways, railroads, and small towns increased to such an extent that contact navigation in the hazy weather became very difficult. Thanks to a vigorous air-marking program carried out since the war by the Pennsylvania Aeronautics Commission, we found all of the larger towns marked and had no trouble staying on course, even with haze and smoke thick enough to limit visibility to three miles. Towns neither of us had ever heard of will be long remembered for their big yellow air markers. Pittsburgh was first recognizable as a large area of brown haze, much denser than the blue atmospheric haze to which we had become accustomed. Penetrating that haze to come in over the Golden Triangle was well worth while. Here was one of the sources of Amer ica's might (page 117). Spread out over the hills and in the valleys of three great rivers lay the homes, offices, and mills of the people who make the steel for which the city is famous.* Our interest was quickened by the knowledge that some of that steel had gone into our sturdy ship. Southeast of Pittsburgh, en route to Wash ington, D. C., we found the Pennsylvania Turnpike climbing into the Appalachian Mountains below us, and took pleasure in our ability to ignore its turns and tunnels and thereby more than double the speed of the racing vehicles on its surface. Itself a chapter in the saga of speed, the highway's broad sur face forms a guidepost for the flyer. The great green mountains unrolled below, and soon we found the Potomac River, with a railroad on each bank.t On one shore was the abandoned channel of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and a modern highway. From the flyer's vantage point we were looking down on the history of transportation in the New World-trail, river, canal, railroad. and auto highway. The river, which had opened a pass for the older forms of trans portation, now also serves as a guide for the airplane, the newest. Before we were clear of the Blue Ridge the tall finger of the Washington Monument appeared on the horizon, and we knew that we should find the city free of its heat haze. Ernie's cameras clicked busily as we crossed over the Pentagon, National Airport, and Alexandria, into Maryland to our home base at Hyde Field near Clinton. As we settled in for the landing, I caught a glimpse of field manager Chris Martin stand ing near the landing area, arms akimbo and head to one side. He had a vital interest in that landing, for it was his final approval as flight instructor that had let me make the trip. Chris had further backed his belief in my flying judgment by arranging, through field owner Arthur Hyde, for the loan of Cessna 692. Chris and ground school instructor Austin Howard had spent many extra hours working out the trip with me (page 97). Thanks to those briefings, many potentially troublesome situations never developed. A Panorama of History The southern and western sections of the Wright Way still lay ahead; we were soon in the air again, headed southwest (page 92). The Potomac River was once more our guide, and in 15 minutes' flying over its channel we crossed a whole series of historical land marks. On our left, the Maryland shore held Fort Washington and Marshall Hall. The colonial seaport of Alexandria, and Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, lay on the Vir ginia side.$ * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Penn's Land of Modern Miracles," by John Oliver La Gorce, July, 1935; and "Steel: Master of Them All," by Albert W. Atwood, April, 1947. t See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Potomac, River of Destiny," by Albert W. Atwood, July, 1945; and "Down the Potomac by Canoe," by Ralph Gray, August, 1948. 1 See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Washington: Home of the Nation's Great," by Al bert W. Atwood; and "The Washington National Monument Society," by Charles Warren, both for June, 1947; and "Home of the First Farmer of America," by Worth E. Shoults, May, 1928.