U.S. Army fliers depart Sand Point Airfield for first aerial circumnavigation of the globe on April 6, 1924.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 11/22/1998
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 363
Four U.S. Army planes take off from Sand Point Airfield (later the site of Seattle's Magnuson Park) on the morning of April 6, 1924, on the first flight around the world.

One plane could not take off, but the removal of some unauthorized tools and a case of Scotch whiskey reduced the weight and it soon followed the others. The fate of the Scotch is not recorded.

The large, single-engine biplanes hopped along a 30,000-mile route north to Alaska, south and west along the coastline of Asia to India, across Turkey, Europe, and the United States to San Francisco, and finally up the coast to Seattle.

Two of the Douglas Air Cruisers were lost en route, but without injury to their crews. A cheering crowd of 40,000 greeted the two original planes, plus a third plane that had joined the flight in Nova Scotia, when they touched down at Sand Point at 1:37 p.m. on September 28, 1924.

The historic flight was a boost to King County efforts to persuade Congress to acquire and develop Sand Point as a military airbase. The County alternately wooed the Navy and the Army, and ended up deeding the site to the Navy in 1926. An isolationist Congress finally appropriated $1 million for a Naval Air Station the following year.

Sources: The Seattle Times, September 28 and 29, 1924.

Related Topics:   Aviation | Firsts | War & Peace

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