Douglas World Cruiser

A Golden Age History Maker

The first around the world.

Starting from Seattle,Washington., at 8:47 a.m., April 6,1924, the Army Air Service Round-the-World-Flight expedition returned at 1:30 p.m.,September 28, having circumnavigated the globe,covering 27,553 miles in 371 hours 11 minutes, actual flying time was 175 days.Using four aircraft built by Douglas Aircraft. The four aircraft were named after the Cities that sponsored Them. (Boston, Chicago, Seattle and New Orleans)Only two of the aircraft (Chicago and New Orleans) completed the flight.

The flight was undertaken to determin the feasibility of establishing a round-the-world-airway, and to win for the United States the honor of being first to circumnavigate the globe by air. In engineering, navigation and operation of the aircraft this World flight crystallized, in one brilliant success, all of the extravagant promises that aviation held out in the way of conquering time and space.

The aircraft were built by Donald Douglas and were designed for use as either a land plane or seaplane, and were powered with 400 h.p. Liberty engines. Their top speed was 103 m.p.h. The average daily mileage of the flight was 156 miles; average speed 70 m.p.h. The longest single hop was 820 miles.Scattered along the route in advance the Army had cached 91,800. gallons of gasoline, 11,650 gallons of oil,spare engines,propellers,wheels, and floats. The expedition cost $177,481.35. By special Act of Congress, Distinguished Service Medals were conferred on the eight members of the original crew.

The four aircraft had no radios, navigational aids, or weather-forecasting equipment. Their only instruments were a compass, an altimeter, and a turn-and-bank indicator.

Seattle—Maj. Frederick L. Martin (pilot and flight commander) and Sgt. Alva L. Harvey;

Chicago Lt. Lowell H. Smith (pilot) and Lt. Leslie Arnold;

Boston—Lt. Leigh Wade (pilot) and Lt. Henry H. Ogden;

New Orleans—Lt. Erik H. Nelson (pilot) and Lt. Jack Harding

Two of the World Cruisers still survive. The New Orleans (#4) is in the Air Force Museum at Dayton Ohio. The Chicago (#2), in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum, has been restored and is on exhibit.

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Written & Edited by Darrell Graves

© 1998

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