• Who was first to fly the Pacific?

    Posted on June 28th, 2010 John Dorcey No comments

    Today we celebrate the 83rd anniversary of the first trans-Pacific flight. The significance of many historic achievements is often lost when competing with current events. In this case, the crossing from San Francisco to Honolulu was overshadowed by the solo trans-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh a month earlier.

    The Fokker F.9 aircraft, designated C-2 by the US Army Air Corps, had been significantly modified at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Powered by three Wright J-5 Whirlwind engines, each developing 220 hp, the airplane cruised at 105 mph. The crew met with the press before their departure, this interview  is from a silent newsreel. Lt. Albert Hegenberger (navigator/pilot) is on the left, Lt. Lester Maitland (pilot) on the right. A second video shows the C-2 departing Oakland’s still under construction airport.

    Maitland would land the large transport at 6:29 am on June 29, 1927 after flying 2,416 miles, all of it over water. Total flying time was 25 hours, 49 minutes. In addition to each being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the crew earned the Mackay Trophy for 1927. F. Trubee Davison, Assistant Secretary of War, said, “The flight is unquestionably one of the greatest aerial accomplishments ever made.”

    The flight was described as a test flight of radio navigation equipment the Army had been developing for years. Hegenberger, an MIT graduate in aeronautical engineering, would spend his career advancing aviation technology.  Major General Hegenberger retired from the Air Force in 1949.

    Maitland had a long and storied career in the military, retiring from the Michigan Air National Guard as a Brigadier General. He was director of aeronautics for both Wisconsin and Michigan. In 1956 he was ordained an Episcopal minister; he retired as rector emeritus.

    Video footage courtesy the Prelinger Archives.

    Leave a reply