Blazing the air trail to Chicago
would have been a "cinch" if I had started at 6 A.M. on September
5th, as had been planned. This would have enabled
me to start one hour ahead of the storm, and I could have reached
Chicago by evening without trouble.
I left Belmont Field, Long Island,
at 7:08 A.M., with a good wind in back of me, flew over the
City of New York, the Hudson
River and Hoboken, and headed west 284 degrees.
There was a bank of low clouds near
the ground and another layer of clouds at a high altitude. I
kept right between them and flew on my compass course. I could
not see the ground, but ran for about two hours and at ten o’clock
I came down through the lower strata of clouds and landed one
mile from Danville, N.Y., about 155 miles from New York City.
There I inquired to find out my bearings and found that I was
not more than two miles out of my course. I did not kill the
motor, but left it running, and after five minutes started up
again and headed for Lock Haven.
I entered the fog which hung low
over the ground and over the tops of the mountains, and I figured
that it would take me about three-quarters of an hour to make
Lock Haven. I came down and saw the field through a notch in
the mountains and made a good landing. My motor was missing,
so I changed spark plugs which took me about an hour, filled
up with oil and gas, got a couple of sandwiches, and left about
I climbed up through the fog again
and went on over the mountains. I sailed on my compass course
for an hour, 283 degrees, and I figured I was about 100 miles
further on. Then I came down to see where I was and get my bearings,
and the first thing I knew I hit the top of a tree. That sure
gave me a good scare. I hustled back up again into the fog,
determined to get plenty of altitude and keep on going as long
as my gas held out.
I went fifty miles, and then I found
my radiator was leaking and I came down and I saw a town with
a fair going one. There was such a mob of people that I did
not land there, but went on about twenty miles to a town named
Cambridge. I inquired where I was and was told "Jefferson."
On looking on my map I found a town called Jefferson lying to
the north of my route, so on leaving I headed toward the south
in order to cross the route again; but I found that it was Jefferson
County, PA, instead of the town of Jefferson, Ohio, and I went
about 150 miles out of my way before reaching Cleveland, where
I had to remain all night on account of darkness.
The next morning I got my radiator
fixed and rested up after being buffeted about by the storm
and rain, and got away at 1:35 P.M. for Bryan on the compass
course of 275 degrees, a little south of due west about 140
miles. I had to stop several times to fill up my radiator with
water. The weather was very much better, and I was able to make
Bryan, where I was received by Postmaster Jordan and got away
at 4:35 P.M. I skirted the southern shore of Lake Michigan and
arrived over Grant Park at an altitude of 5,000 feet at 6:55
I circled around and made a good
landing and was received by Postmaster Wm. B. Carlile, Mr. Chas.
Dickenson, President of the Aero Club of Illinois; Capt. B.B.
Lipsner, Superintendent of Aerial Mail Service; Mr. Thos. Downey,
Assistant Superintendent of Mails;
Mr. James O’Conner, Director of the U.S. War Exposition; Mr.
James Stevens, Secretary of the Aero Club of Illinois, and Mr.
Augustus Post, Secretary of the Aero Club of America, who had
come on from New York to witness the inauguration of the first
aero mail service between New York and Chicago.
The weather on the return
trip was much better. I started from Chicago on September 10,
at 6:26 o’clock A.M. I carried about three thousand pieces of
mail. The weather looked so good that I expected to make a record
trip. There was some haze on the ground, but not nearly enough
to prevent landmarks being distinct. Just as I was over Cleveland,
I found a broken connection in the radiator and I landed there
to get it repaired.
This took some time, but I got away
from there by 4:30 P.M., in time to make a pleasant flight to
Lockhaven, one of the scheduled stops, before dark, a distance
of 210 miles. I stayed at Lockhaven all night, leaving there
at 7:20 the morning of the tenth. I arrived at Belmont Park
at 11:22 A.M. As a pathfinding trip it was an immense success.
We gathered a lot of information which will be very valuable
in the future trips.
The radiator trouble was the only
thing that prevented me from making the trip within the ten
hours set. If I had had a spare aeroplane even, I could have
done it. We will, of course, have spare machines for the permanent
route, so it will not happen again.
Max Miller was killed on September 1, 1920 when his plane
caught fire in the air and crashed.
Photo courtesy of The American Air Mail Society