Simanaitis Says

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THE ROARING TWENTIES followed the roar of warfare, the latter including unprecedented combat in the air. Bombers were converted to passenger service. Surplus fighter planes gave barnstormers a peacetime career. The Army Air Service encouraged Americans to sign up fledgling flyers and mechanics to “learn-earn.” 

Image from Chronicle of Aviation, editor-in-chief Bill Gunston, JL International, 1992

Chronicle of Aviation assembled a year-by-year summary of tidbits from 1900 to 1992. Here’s a selection from 100 years ago.

Frenchwoman Conquers the Andes. Santiago, Chile, April 1, 1921. Chronicle of Aviation wrote, “French pilot Adrienne Bolland took off from Mendoza in neighboring Argentina early this morning in a Caudron biplane which she had shipped to South America.”

“Although she had to be careful to avoid the mountain peaks which were higher than her airplane could fly, and despite the intense cold she experienced while flying at over 14,750 feet, Bolland completed the historic Andean crossing in ten hours.” 

Adrienne Bolland and the Caudron G.3. Image from

I first heard of Adrienne Bolland through a mention on TV’s Downton Abbey. Later, French aviation historian Coline Bery shared details of this adventurous woman’s life through email correspondence.

I modeled Bolland and her Caudron G.3 in GMax for use in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Coline recently reported her own adventure of riding in a museum replica of Bolland’s Caudron G.3, together with fashioning a “My Adrienne Bolland” doll and other memorabilia. 

Image from

New Cockpit Boosts High-Altitude Flying. Dayton, Ohio, June 8, 1921. Chronicle of Aviation reported, “The potential of high-altitude flying could be greatly expanded if an airplane unveiled today proves successful. The aircraft, a USD-9A (U.S.-built de Havilland D.H.9A) especially modified by the engineering division of the US Army Air Service at Dayton, has had its two open cockpits replaced by a heavy oval compartment which is designed to be pressurized by a propeller-driven supercharger attached to the lower port wing.” 

“A pressurized cabin will be essential in the upper atmosphere where the air pressure is too low for the human body to function properly.”

My GMax model of a related craft, the D.H. 4B. Image from “North to Alaska—By Aero,” a 1920 adventure of the Black Wolf Squadron of the Alaskan Flying Expedition.

Barnstorming Pilots Find Fame and Cash to be Elusive. Omaha, Nebraska, December 14, 1921. Chronicle of Aviation observed, “To the young farm lad who just saw a biplane buzz the hen house, the pilot was Sir Lancelot, Ivanhoe, and the whole of King Arthur’s round table rolled into one, a knight of the air on the gasoline-powered steed: the ‘barnstormer.’ ”

“Look, Ma. No hands!” Image from Chronicle of Aviation.

Some barnstormers, Chronicle of Aviation noted, “earn up to $3000 a day [$46,000 in today’s cash], fly daredevil feats before large crowds in new airplanes, becoming celebrities. But most of the hundreds of barnstormers who crisscross the U.S. are lucky if they make that much money in a year. They sleep under their airplane’s wings or in a ten-cent room each night, and consider it a good day if they can attract a crowd of 50, a few of whom will pay $5 [$77 today] for a five-minute ride in a war-surplus Curtiss Jenny, held together by glue and wire.” ds

That was quite a year, 1921. ds 

© Dennis, 2021 

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