The 1920s and 1930s saw many milestones and innovations in the history of aviation. Some of the most famous are the solo flight of Charles A. Lindbergh when he crossed the Atlantic and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart when she attempted to circumnavigate the globe in 1939. One of the biggest milestones happened on this date in 1924 when three military aircraft landing in Seattle, Washington to complete the first successful flight to circumnavigate the globe.
The planning of the flight actually started the previous year when the United States military wanted to prove that they could succeed where so many other countries have failed. The word went out to airplane manufacturers that the military needed an aircraft that would be capable of accomplishing such a feat. Donald Douglas won the contract to make a modified version of the DT-2 airplane they manufacture for the United States Navy that would be dubbed the Douglas World Cruiser (DWC). Once the prototype was approved by Major General Mason M. Patrick, Chief of the Air Service, Mr. Douglas was contracted to make four more plus enough parts for repairs over the course of the journey.
In early April of 1924 four DWCs and spare parts where flew to Sand Point Airfield near Seattle, Washington. On April 6, 1924 came the big day when the four aircraft; Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and New Orleans; would take off on the first leg of their historic journey. On April 30, 1924 tragedy struck the group as one of the aircraft, Seattle, was lost when it crashed into a mountain in Alaska. The crew, Maj. Frederick Martin (pilot and flight commander) and SSgt. Alva Harvey (flight mechanic), were later rescued but the group was now down to three aircraft. Four months later the Boston was lost when it sank in the Atlantic Ocean. The crew from the Boston, 1st Lt. Leigh P. Wade (pilot) and SSgt. Henry H. Ogden (flight mechanic), were rescued and contained in the prototype that was now dubbed the Boston II.
As reported by the Associated Press, when the three aircraft landed back at Sand Point they received the following telegraph from President Coolidge: “On final completion of your flight I desire to again offer my congratulations and express to you the thanks of your country.
“Under the law I do not understand that I have authority suitably to reward you by promotion and other appropriate action.
“I wish, however, to announce to you that on the convening of Congress I shall recommend that such authority be granted in order that your distinguished services may have a practical recognition from your country.”