Delaware

First non-
stop flight across the Pacific


September 1931—It 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 Mae’s 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

Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon
October 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.
The "Miss Veedol"
"Miss Veedol," the GM Bellanca J2 Pangborn and Herdon used to fly from Japan to Wenatchee, Washington, Pangborn's birthplace.

 

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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.