On an interesting historical aviation note, Dennis Parks, the Curator Emeritus of Seattle’s Museum of Flight, has recently written an article for General Aviation News relating the fascinating and little known story of two adventurous young pilots who in 1930, embarked on a month-long, 12,000-mile journey to Alaska in a small two-seat biplane with open cockpits and just a 90-hp, four-cylinder engine. The pilots, Laurence Lombard and Frederick Blodgett, were on their summer vacation and wanted to see if their de Havilland Gipsy Moth named “Flit” could fly from Boston to Alaska for some bear hunting and then return to the lower 48 states.
However and what’s fascinating about the story, besides the fact that it took place only a decade after the Army’s pioneering flight expedition to Alaska, was the fact that pilot Laurence Lombard, an attorney at a Boston law firm, had logged only 150 hours before takeoff while co-pilot Frederick Blodgett, who worked for a bank, had only five hours in the air. Moreover and unlike the army expedition, the pair were on their own with no support in the form of pre-planned fuel sources, maintenance or additional supplies.
In the article, Dennis told how the pair faced their first emergency over Idaho, switched from wheels to floats for the journey to Alaska and ultimately reached as far north as Juneau. After doing some filming and some bear hunting, the pair flew back to Seattle to change their floats back to wheels and then they took the long route back to Boston – via the Pacific coast and San Diego.
The little known story about the pair of adventurers is well worth reading – especially by anyone interested in both aviation history and aviation related adventures.