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U.S. Army fliers land at Sand Point Airfield to complete first aerial circumnavigation of the globe on September 28, 1924.

HistoryLink.org Essay 364 : Printer-Friendly Format

Two U.S. Army aircraft complete the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe when they land at Sand Point Airfield at 1:37 p.m., Sunday, September 28, 1924. (The Airfield is on the future site of Seattle's Magnuson Park.) They are the survivors of a fleet of four Douglas Air Cruisers that departed Sand Point on the morning of April 6, 1924, for a 30,000-mile flight around the world.

Two of the large, single-engine biplanes were lost (without crew injury) as they 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, then up the coast to Seattle.

When they touched down at Sand Point at 1:37 p.m., a cheering crowd of 40,000 greeted the two original planes, plus a third plane that had joined the flight in Nova Scotia.

The historic flight helped to boost King County efforts to convince Congress to acquire and develop Sand Point as a Naval Air Station. King County purchased most of the future base in 1921 and attempted to donate it to the Navy, but an isolationist Congress balked until 1926. The following year, Congress appropriated more than $1 million to develop the Sand Point Naval Air Station.

The Seattle Times, September 28 and 29, 1924.

Travel through time (chronological order):
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U.S. Army aircraft Chicago landing at Sand Point, September 28, 1924
Courtesy Daryl Baird

Back of photo showing landing of first airplane to circumnavigate the world
Courtesy Daryl Baird

Maj. Frederick Martin, commanding officer of round-the-world flight congratulating Lt. Lowell Smith, September 28, 1924
Courtesy United States Navy

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