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AVIATION HIGHLIGHTS—A CENTURY AGO

AVIATION EXPANDED OVER land and sea in 1922. Here are tidbits of 100 years ago gleaned from Chronicle of Aviation, together with my usual Internet sleuthing.

This and the following images are from Chronicle of Aviation.

Paris and East. The Compagnie Franco-Roumaine de Navigation Aérienne was founded on January 1, 1920, making it the world’s first transcontinental airline. The U.S. didn’t have a transcontinental carrier (albeit over a considerably larger transcontinent) until 1928 with TAT. Wikipedia notes that CFRNA also made the first passenger international night flight, between Belgrade and Bucharest in 1923.

Third British Airline Starts Paris Service. Chronicle of Aviation reported that on April 2, 1922, “The prototype of the new D.H.34 airliner, resplendent in the scarlet livery of the Daimler Hire company, opened the scheduled services of a third British airline today with a flight from London’s Croydon airport to Paris.”

“Service with a smile from Daimler’s young steward as he helps a passenger.”

“The new machine seats two pilots and nine passengers. Daimler, which will call itself The Daimler Airway, is buying four D.H.34s on hire purchase, and also has one of the earlier D.H. 18s.” 

World’s First Commercial Mid-air Collision. Alas, Chronicle also reported that only five days later, April 7, 1922, “A tragic first in civil aviation history took place today, about 60 miles north of Paris, when two airliners collided in mid-air, killing seven people on board. Among victims was a 16-year-old steward newly hired by the British airline Daimler Airways to serve coffee to passengers.”

The accident was blamed on poor visibility, with both the incoming Daimler D.H.18 and outgoing Farman Goliath evidently on intersecting courses. 

“The disaster,” Chronicle wrote, “will intensify calls for tighter control of air traffic. At the moment pilots are left a free hand in finding routes, and many follow the same ones.”

Within a decade, radio-based “Avigation” all but eliminated this hazard of air transportation.

Airline Routes and Politics. Chronicle reported that on May 1, 1922, “Deutsch-Russische Luftverkehrs Gesellschaft (German-Russian Air Travel Company) or Deruluft, a joint venture formed last year, has opened the [Moscow] route because of the marked trade between the two countries.”

“The British and French,” Chronicle wrote, “supported the anti-Communists in the Russian civil war, and the Soviets are suspicious of their commercial intentions. But the Germans are welcomed, particularly if they come by air.”

Chronicle explained, “German Fokker F.III and Junkers F 13 monoplanes have proved excellent air transports, probably a direct result of the ban on military aircraft imposed on Germany after the war: German civil airliners have been purpose-designed from scratch rather than developed from old bombers.”

And At Sea. Chronicle reported that in Norfolk, Virginia, March 20, 1922, “The USS Langley was commissioned today as the US Navy’s first aircraft carrier…. The Langley, built on the hull of a collier, is high-sided and blunt-ended with a top speed of 14 knots.”

“The USS Langley, collier turned aircraft carrier, anchored off San Diego.” 

 “To brake,” Chronicle noted, “incoming aircraft have hooks which catch onto cables on the deck as they come in to land. Below the flight deck is the open-sided hanger deck. A unique feature of the ship is its ability to tilt its smokestacks during flight operations.”

The U.S. Navy was to commission two more aircraft carriers within six years: the USS Saratoga (November 16, 1927) and the USS Lexington (December 14, 1927). 

It’s no wonder that the 1920s and 1930s were known as the Golden Age of Aviation. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022

One comment on “AVIATION HIGHLIGHTS—A CENTURY AGO

  1. Bob Storck
    April 5, 2022

    Note that the British Daimler company still exists and produced elegant autos until recently. Although the Daimler name is mostly tied to the German Mercedes company, there were independent Daimler companies in GB and Austria, all producing autos, but aviation products, too. Each had a management part with early air carriers as well.
    Too many airline histories make light of the leadership of German airlines between the wars. Lufthansa was known as the leader in management and technology in Europe, East Asia and Mediterranean destinations. They excelled in pioneering civil air routes in South America with dominating SCADTA, and deep ties in China and the Far East with Eurasia Airlines and Chinese National Aviation Corporation with their advanced Junkers and Heinkel airliners, far ahead of our Douglas transports which were developed in response.

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