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Most people have some familiarity with how Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, yet few ever talk about those who were the first to do so across the Pacific.

That honor goes to Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon.

The two took off from Sabishiro Beach in Japan on October 4, 1931 in their plane that was named the Miss Veedol.

Shortly after they took flight, they purposely jettisoned their landing gear to both gain speed and save on fuel. It didn’t all go quite as planned. The struts failed to separate from the airplane, so Pangborn was forced to climb out on the wings barefoot to remove them.

41 hours and 13 minutes later, the two successfully made a belly landing on a patch of sagebrush in Wenatchee, Washington.

Sixteen months later, the captain of a schooner named the Presho spotted something floating in the water. It was a Firestone branded tire, which was identified by its serial number as having been part of the landing gear that had been jettisoned by the Miss Veedol shortly after takeoff. It had followed nearly the identical path across the Pacific that Pangborn and Herndon had taken, being found just 200 miles (320 km) away from their final landing location.

Advertisement for Champion Aviation Spark Plugs featuring Hugh Herndon (left) and Clyde Pangborn (right).
Advertisement for Champion Aviation Spark Plugs featuring Hugh Herndon (left) and Clyde Pangborn (right). From page 5 of the November 1931 issue of Aero-Digest.
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