Dubbed the “Air Derby” by the media, the world’s first transcontinental air race began a century ago today, featuring 62 military pilots flying a 5,200 mile round-trip in an attempt to demonstrate the potential of commercial aviation. The route started on Long Island, with several mandatory stops as the airmen made their way to San Francisco and then returned back to the East Coast, though the historic race was tragically plagued with crashes and fatalities. More than 50 of the initial 62 entries crashed their planes, and only eight contestants would actually complete the final leg of the race. Despite encountering bad weather and fixing a broken engine crankshaft, Lt. Belvin Maynard, his mechanic Sgt. William Cline, and his German shepherd Trixie were the first team to successfully return to Long Island, climbing out of their cockpit after twelve days of near-nonstop flight.
"Flying might not be all smooth sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price." - Amelia Earhart, American Aviation Pioneer —