October 8

This Day in History

General Interest

Oct 8, 1919:

First transcontinental air race

The first transcontinental air race in the United States begins, with 63 planes competing in the round-trip aerial derby between California and New York. As 15 planes departed the Presidio in San Francisco, California, 48 planes left Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York.

Lieutenant Belvin Maynard, flying a Havilland-4 with a Liberty motor, won the 5,400-mile race across the continent and back. Maynard reached the Presidio in just over three days, rested and serviced his plane for another three days, and then returned to Roosevelt Field in just under four days. Maynard won for the lowest total elapsed time, but in actual flight time--24 hours, 59 minutes, and 49 seconds--three others accomplished the round-trip journey faster.

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