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Looking Back to…the First Around the World Flight

Douglas World Cruiser

Douglas World Cruiser at one of the refueling/servicing sites along the Fourth Division Route along the path between India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Turkey. (NASM Courtesy Photo)

Douglas Company factory

Workers construct the World Cruisers at the Douglas Company factory in Santa Monica, California. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)

Cruisers at Allahabad, India

The Douglas World Cruisers at a refueling site at Allahabad, India. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force)

The New Orleans hoisted on the beach to dry out at Reykjavik, Iceland

The New Orleans hoisted on the beach to dry out at Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force)

World Fliers at McCook Field

World Fliers in front of the Chicago at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force)

World Flight Crews group photo

World Flight Crews (Left to Right): Lt. Jack Harding, Lt. Erik Nelson, Lt. Leigh Wade, Ma.j Frederick Martin, First Lt. Leslie Arnold, Lt. Lowell Smith, and Lt. Le Clair Schulze. They are wearing black armbands in honor of former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, who had recently passed away. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force)

On  September 6, 1924, eight Airmen departed in their Douglas World Cruisers, specially built by the Douglas Company in California and tested at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, from Lake Washington in Seattle, Washington heading westward for Asia via Alaska for one of the most sensational aviation events of the 1920s. 

This around-the-world flight was the first globe-circling flight in aviation history and required logistical support pre-positions at locations along the route. Of the original eight Airmen, two would not finish the first leg and two of the original aircraft would not finish the trip.

These photographs for Around the World Flight are laid out in roughly in chronological order to walk readers through the Airmen’s history-setting globe-circling flight. Awarded the 1924 Mackay Trophy for the flight, the Airmen were decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal in 1925.

“A Look Back,” is a new product by the Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command History Office that provides a photographic essay of a particular topic.

The full product is available at the sidebar link.