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When was the first flight from the United States to Hawaii?

Today's doodle was inspired by my flight to Maui! I'm lucky enough to make the trip from the continental United States to Hawaii at least once a year. However, it makes me wonder how long people have been flying a couple thousand miles across an ocean. Who was the first to make the journey? What year did it happen?


The Navy decided it would be first to attempt the 2,400-mile flight from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii. This overwater distance was never before attempted. Two Navy seaplanes took off on August 31, 1925 from the waters near San Francisco. One plane had engine trouble and ended it's run only 300 miles into the journey, but the second plane continued on... though was unsuccessful in the mission.


The plane ran out of gas looking for a ship that was supposed to show their path (ships were placed every 200 miles to guide and help if need be along the route). The plane went down, but was glided onto the ocean. The men were able to fashion makeshift sails and sailed their plane 400+ miles to the nearest island. They were starved but a rain storm saved them from dying from dehydration. The men made it to Hawaii with their plane and their lives, but it was not a successful flight.


Charles Lindbergh made his successful transatlantic flight May 21, 1927 which really pushed hawaiian attempt into hyperdrive. The Army had spent years preparing for their attempt and it was made in a Fokker C-2. The tri-motor plane was not a seaplane, but could store more fuel for the journey. The Army would send just two men; Navigator Lt. Albert Hegenberger (who helped develop the Army's flight instruments and air navigation methods) and pilot Lt. Lester Maitland (a long-distance flyer and record-setter). The two men took off from Oakland on June 28, 1927, and soon ran into problems. A compass failed, the radio receiver cut in and out and then stopped working all together, and an engine began to cough and spit due to carburetor icing (something they had not expected in a tropical flight).


Nearly 26 hours after leaving California, the Bird of Paradise (the plane was named by Hegenberger and Maitland) finally appeared and swooped down around Wheeler Field on Oahu, Hawaii. Maitland and Hegenberger had made history: the first successful flight to Hawaii touched down June 29, 1927.


I don't know about you, but I'm really glad the flight doesn't take 26 hours any more!





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