The First Flight Around the World


On 6th April 1924, four Douglas World Cruisers and eight American crewmen set out from Seattle to attempt the first around-the-world airplane flight. Each was named after an American city (Seattle, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans). Seattle was lost when it crashed into an Alaskan mountain.

Whereever they went, the six airmen “Magellans of the Air” were welcomed royally. They had to avoid the Soviet Union, which had not given permission for the planes to cross but at a luncheon given by the faculty of the University of Tokyo, they are toasted for “being the first of men to connect the two shores of the Pacific Ocean through the sky.” In Shanghai, girls strewed roses before them. In Calcutta, it took 50 policemen to hold back the mob. They proceeded into the Middle East, and Europe. In Vienna, they were surrounded by Kodaks. They arrived in Paris on the Bastille Day, and greeted by “more generals, ambassadors, cabinet ministers and celebrities than we had encountered in all the rest of our lives”, wrote one airman. In London, they were mobbed by photographers and autograph collectors for the police lines had broken.

En route to Iceland, the Boston sunk during a forced landing caused by engine trouble. At Icy Tickle, Labrador, U.S newspapers eagerly awaited the completion of this 175-day journey. The above picture was taken by Acme/UPI photographer Bob Dorman, who beat the other photographers by dropping the photographic plates and negatives into Manhattan’s East River as he and other photographers were flying back from Labrador to New York. His agency recovered the plates (which were smashed by the impact) and negatives (which were intact) before the plane had landed, thus scoring a beat.

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3 thoughts on “The First Flight Around the World

  1. This is a great photograph, and I really appreciate the background of how the photograph nabbed the beat. Linton Wells, the journalist that followed (and rode along with) the airmen, was just as tricky winning the story in Japan. What an adventure.

  2. That’s an interesting picture. Any idea where Icy Tickle is? I work up here in Labrador but I’ve never heard that name before.

    1. It is about 80km NE from Rigolet Community. Coordinates: N54° 28′, W 57° 14′ according to Douglas Airline Logs.

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