stop flight across the Pacific
September 1931It was January 1931 when Clyde Pangborn and
Hugh Herndon came to New Castle, Delaware, to sign an order with GM Bellanca
to build the J2, later christened the Miss Veedol. The original
intent was to attempt to break the Around-the-World-Record, which stood
at eight days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes, held by Wiley Post and Harold
Gatty in the Lockheed-built Winnie Mae.
On July 28, they departed New York and half-way across the Atlantic, they
ran into terrible weather and got lost. Thirty-two hours later they flew
onto Berlin and encountered more bad weather. At this point, they calculated
they were behind the Winnie Maes time by 22 hours. Undaunted, they
flew on through Russia and landed in Khabarovzk, Siberia, in inclement
weather. Now they were 27 hours behind schedule, a time difference that
was impossible to overcome. They received a telegram from home suggesting
they fly to Japan and obtain permission from the Japanese government to
attempt a non-stop flight across the Pacific to the U.S.A. The Japanese
newspaper Asahi offered $25,000 for the
5, 1931—Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon after arriving in Wenatchee,
Washington, following their historic non-stop Transpacific flight
and setting the new World Non-Stop Distance Record of 5,001 miles.
Veedol,” the GM Bellanca J2 Pangborn and Herdon used to fly from
Japan to Wenatchee, Washington, Pangborn’s birthplace.
first aircraft to achieve the goal. Permission was granted
for only one attempt, but Pangborn felt he could conquer the mighty Pacific
where several others had failed before him.
Pangborn was not only an ace pilot, but an ace mechanic as well. He hand-fashioned
a “chin fuel tank” that held an additional 50 gallons to the forward belly
of the Bellanca. The Bellanca now held 915 gallons of fuel in seven tanks
and 45 gallons of oil for a gross weight of about 9,000 lbs. This was
three times the Bellanca’s empty weight! He also modified the landing
gear with pins that could be removed in flight to reduce drag. After they
took off on September 29 and were sure everything was in order, Clyde
climbed out into the cold air and pulled the pins on the landing gear,
dropping it into the ocean. This technique increased the plane’s speed
by 17 percent and reduced the load by 350 lbs. Forty-one hours later they
had flown a total of 4,558 miles and had plenty of fuel left to continue
on to break the World Non-Stop Distance Record of 5,001 miles. They wanted
to land in Dallas, Texas, but fatigue had set in and they decided to land
in Wenatchee, Washington, Pangborn’s birthplace.