Thursday, March 17, 2016

"Flying Parson," Sampson County, NC Pilot Made Aviation History

     Belvin W. Maynard, born 28 Sept 1892, was a World War I test pilot. He won the first transcontinental air race between New York and San Francisco in October 1919. Maynard was raised at Harrell's Store in Sampson Co., NC. After graduation from high school, he studied for the ministry at Wake Forest Seminary. He was killed in an airplane crash on 7 Sept 1922 while performing in a “flying circus” at RutlandVT.  He was buried in near his father’s farm at Harrell’s Store in Sampson Co., NC. He wrote the following story of the history-making race and it was published in a series of articles in the News and Observer in Raleigh, NC.   


Thrilling Story of Airplane Flight Across America by Lieut. Belvin W. Maynard, Winner of Army Air Service Trans-Continental Reliability Contest and Winner of New York-Toronto Air Race.



“Flying Parson” Had No Competitors After Reaching Cleveland When All Contestants Were Left Behind; At Chicago Storm Blow Up To Disturb Slumbers and Then Newspapermen Insist On Getting Pictures: Hay Meant for Cows Proved Bad Bed To Sleep On, Maynard Declares

            My trip, though tiresome, was very interesting and enjoyable. After a good night’s sleep, following the landing at Mineola [New York], I felt quite as usual, except for a cold, which I caught at Sydney, Nebraska.
            Our flight took us over plains, prairies, hills, mountains, valleys, deserts, rivers and lakes, and through practically every climate represented in the United States.
            We passed over the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada Range, with freezing temperatures and two and a half hours later, watched the Californians bathe in the surf at San Francisco’s beaches.
            We flew at altitudes varying from 2,000 to 13,000 feet. One night we would sleep 6,000 feet about sea level, and the next only a few feet above.
            We passed over the wonderful Middle West, with its fields laden with grain recently harvested; and a few hours later were speeding over the lifeless barren waste of the alkali desert.
            Twice we spurned defeat and fought our way onward. Once when the radiator burst, because of freezing water from the overflow pipe, and again when the motor “went dead” near Omaha on the way back to the Atlantic coast. Several times we encountered bad weather, with many control stops, received reports of severe storms ahead; but kept pushing on unless we were officially held up.
            There are perhaps many details that would be of special interest in connection with this race. To give to the public just what they would appreciate most is a difficult problem. I hope that in writing these few articles, I shall be successful in touching upon the most interesting points. There were many rules and regulations controlling the race, and many reasons given for having it.
            All the planes entering were supposed to be stock machines. I mean by that, that they should all be set up according to Government specifications. The day before the race, I had my machine set up, as I did in the New York-Toronto race, with a few changes that added about ten miles an hour to its speed. On that day all the planes entering the race underwent an inspection. After having been severely reprimanded by a ranking officer of the Air Service for not having mine set up strictly according to specifications, I went to work and put it in shape so that it would qualify.

Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) 10 Oct 1919


             At midnight on the night before the race, we had our plans finished. The next day, after undergoing another inspection, we had all necessary preparations for the start, and took off at 9:25 a.m.
            Our cargo consisted of Sergt. Wm. E. Kline, myself and Trixie. Sergeant Kline, I consider one of the best mechanicians in the air service. He did twenty-one months’ overseas duty at Tours, France, one of our instruction centers. During the last five months, he has been in charge of the aero work at Hazelhurst Field. Sergeant Kline is married and lives at Harrisburg, Pa. He is twenty-seven years of age. He was a mechanic before he entered the service.
Trixie From Germany.
            Trixie, our mascot, a German police dog, has traveled extensively; she was born in Luxembourg, Germany, seven months ago; she was brought to France by an English sergeant. In France, she fell into the hands of a friend of mine, Lieut. E. E. Wilson’ he prized her very highly, and brought her to this country about four months ago. Trixie did not enjoy the trip across the Atlantic, becoming very seasick.
            On arriving here, fearing that further traveling would cause her death, he turned her over to me, to see if I could bring her back to health again. Now, Trixie and I are inseparable. She had flown with me before this race, about fifteen hours and seemed to enjoy it very much.
The Tenth To Leave.
            We were about the tenth contestant to leave at the beginning of the race, and started out on a direct compass course to Binghamton[1]. About half way we passed one plane several miles off its course to our left. Just before landing at Binghamton, we passed another plane to our right, apparently lost over the city, hunting for the landing place. We located the field without any trouble, and landed.
            Here we found a very good field; but a little small for landing purposes. It was well-marked with a large white circle. The Binghamton police were successful in keeping the eager crowd off the field. I was welcomed by the mayor and after turning my log book over to the commanding officer, I was taken in hand by the good ladies of the Red Cross canteen. That is a wonderful organization, especially to a hungry aviator, and if I had eaten all that they told me I should eat, I would have died before I got to Chicago. Here Trixie was also favored with bread; and on refusal to eat that, was then given boiled ham, which she seemed to enjoy very much.
Off For Rochester.
            We left Binghamton after our half-hour time allotted us, leaving several of the contestants on the ground. We continue[d] to Rochester, and there found only one of our competitors. Before we left, another had arrived.
            Leaving Rochester, we were in the lead, and were the first to arrive at Buffalo. Here we received a rousing welcome, because we were the first of the racers to land there and because of acquaintances made when we stopped here on the New York-Toronto race[2]. We used the landing field of the Curtiss Airplane Company, which has a long, narrow runway; if you run off the runway, you are out of luck. There are very good facilities for fueling here, and it seemed that all the good women of Buffalo were out to greet us and feed us. We had a very pleasant luncheon here. I found a keener interest in aviation in Buffalo than was manifested at the time of the previous race.[3]
            We left one contestant here and flew on toward Cleveland, taking a direct compass course over Lake Erie. Here we had the opportunity of thoroughly sympathizing with Hawker[4], for we flew for 100 miles out of reach of land. At Cleveland, we used the field of Glenn L. Martin Airplane Company, and I had the honor here, of meeting Mr. Martin, who extended every facility and opened his factory to us.
All Contestants Left Behind.
            After we left Cleveland, we saw no more of our eastern competitors. At Cleveland we received a hearty welcome. We pushed on from here to Bryan [Ohio], and from Bryan to Chicago. We again flew over open water in crossing Lake Michigan. We landed at Ashburn Field in Chicago, and here we found that the officials and everyone else were surprised to see us; because they did not expect any of the aviators to reach Chicago that night.

Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL) 9 Oct 1919

            We were invited to go down town by the Aero Club; but decided it was too far and would take too long to get back to the field in the morning. Hence, we slept at the quarters furnished by the Aero Club at the Flying Field. Unfortunately, we found these most uncomfortable and spent a very restless night.
Storm Disturbs Slumber.
            A storm blew up along about midnight and the raindrops rattling on the roof played a peculiar tune all their own. It was music that for racket would make one of Sousa’s bands look sick.
            Our mattresses were stuffed with hay and our pillows seemed to be filled with straw. I was certainly sorry that I did not have some of my father’s Jersey cows along, as they would have enjoyed eating the hay, more than we did sleeping on it. Here too, we were dug out of bed in the middle of the night by the camera men from the Chicago papers. The pictures they published of us next day, I would never have believed to be ours had they not had our names beneath them.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 24 Oct 1919]




Tar Heel Aviator Found Roughest Weather of His Career After Leaving Chicago on Second Leg of Cross Continent Flight; Over Western Prairies the Lone Fliers Raise Consternation Among Grazing Herds; Welcomed with Hot Oyster Stew In Cheyenne and then to Bed and to Sleep.


By Lieut. Belvin W. Maynard.
(Copyright, 1919, and published by permission of the Boston Traveller)

            On account of our poor night’s sleep we did not have very good appetites for breakfast and left at sun rise without eating very much. Out of Chicago we encountered the roughest weather that I have ever flown in and the “bumps’ mixed with an empty stomach almost made me seasick. Some of the jolts we received from strong air currents near Rock Island were so severe that our engine missed fire several times.
            On arriving at Rock Island I learned that my friend, Billy Sunday, was holding a revival there which perhaps accounted for the rough weather. The field is large, but was soft because of recent rains.
            We landed at Rock Island an hour after sun rise and before the control stop commander and the Red Cross ladies came out. Therefore we were unable to get anything to eat as they had received no word of our arrival in Chicago and were entirely unprepared to receive us.
Encounters Rough Wind
            After the half hour allotted to us was passed we flew away towards Des Moines, sincerely hoping to find the wind had subsided and was less “bumpy.” We unfortunately encountered worse conditions than ever and a strong head wind.
            I began to see visions of Captain Smith, Lieutenant Kiel, and Major Spatz sweeping by me on their eastward flight at a terrific speed with this thirty-mile an hour wind favoring them. My hopes of winning out against the western[6] entrants passed away in these few tiresome hours.
            Finally I sighted the gold dome of the capitol at Des Moines and soon afterwards located the long, civilian landing field adjoining a neatly kept graveyard. It seems strange that flying fields should so frequently be laid out adjoining graveyards and hospitals. They should be placed next door to hotels and theatres, preferably.
Airman’s Biggest Thrill.
            Here we again found a soft landing field. So soft, in fact that Sergeant Kline, immediately after the wheels touched the ground, jumped out on the stabilizer to keep the tail of the machine from going up in the air.
            This is the only “movie stuff” we pulled off on the entire trip. This performance, although very helpful at times, should never be made a practice of. One man was killed during the race by being thrown off a stabilizer when the pilot made a bad landing.
            The biggest thrill I got out of the whole race was when, while watching the landings at the San Francisco field, I suddenly saw Max Goodnough shoot out, head first, from his cockpit to the stabilizer of Lieut. Mangelman’s ship long before the plane reached the ground.
            At Des Moines we found much enthusiasm, lots of good things to eat, and a fine corps of fair women reporters from the local press.
Sail Over Western Plains.
            From Des Moines to Omaha we found fewer “bumps”, but the sky was still cloudy. All the country from Chicago to Omaha bore a striking similarity as viewed from the air. There appeared to be scores of thriving cities and thousands of apparently prosperous farmers. We passed over many farm houses with large and commodious outbuildings.
            Many cattle and sheep were grazing in the fields as we passed over. The cattle would always run away as soon as they heard the roar of the motor, but the sheep hundreds strong would all huddle together and start milling together, the whole mass revolving like the disk of a graphophone.
            Just before reaching Omaha we had about five miles of exceedingly rough country to pass over which seemed to be there to give us a little foretaste of what was coming further on.
Greeted by Newspapermen.
            At Omaha we faced a regular battery of cameras and it seemed as if every reporter in Nebraska was on hand to greet us. If there had been time, I should have called the roll.
            We landed on the field of one of the pioneers of aviation, Mr. Ashmusen. He has an excellent field, but the approach is poor, with either trees or telephone wires practically surrounding it.
            We took off from Omaha on schedule and soon found ourselves flying over the great wheat and corn producing country of the West.
Farmers Wealthy Men.
            The farmers are the wealthy men of this part of the world and a retired farmer is considered nothing unusual. Out in the country districts you can buy farming lands for the very reasonable sum of four hundred dollars an acre.
            The country, because of its smooth and even contour, soon became monotonous. When I came in sight of the junction of two small streams where, according to my map, I was sure the field should be, I looked eagerly for the city of St. Paul, Neb.
            Finally when I was nearly over the field I saw a few buildings about five miles away, and concluded that what I saw must be all there was of St. Paul. I was right. Erroneously, I had the impression that it was a large city.
            A tract of waste land covered with grass was being utilized as a landing field. It was large enough, but somewhat rough.
Doesn’t Drink Coffee.
            Here, as at every other control stop, the kind ladies of the Red Cross urged me to drink hot coffee. Now, my mother drinks coffee and says it does her no harm and she makes it strong, too, but somehow or other I could never learn to like the stuff. Perhaps in my old age I’ll come around to it, but I have enough wrinkles in my face now for a young man.
            I drank some milk and ate a sandwich, as also giving some food to Trixie. After this repast we continued on our way. The wind calmed down, but the air grew chilly. It was evident that we were gradually getting into a country of higher elevation.
Meets Captain Smith.
            We soon arrived at North Platte where we were pleasantly surprised at finding a wonderful landing field. We clambered out of the machine and rushed in to the little tent on the field where there was an oil heater that enabled us to thaw out a bit.
            Five minutes after we landed Capt. Lowell Smith, leading the flyers who started from San Francisco, swooped down on the field, and we met in the little tent, exchanging compliments.
            He warned us of the freezing cold weather we would find a little further west and advised us to get more clothing. Before we got away from North Platte two more fliers, Major Spatz and Lieut. Kiel flew in from the West.
            In taxying [sic] out on the field to take off I blew out a tire and was forced to come back to repair it. We soon had it fixed and lost only fifteen minutes.
            Between North Platte and Sidney the country appeared to have been level at one time, but now many deep gullies and ravines break the monotony of the level fields. The plateaus were not large, but there was room on most of them to make a landing if necessary.
Warm by Bon Fire.
            At Sidney we found a large field, but a little rough and on a slight incline. Here we met another eastbound flyer. We appreciated a little heat which was furnished us in the form of a few drygoods boxes out in the open. The smoke from the bon fire, living up to its traditions, seemed not to be able to blow anywhere except directly in our faces as we huddled about the warmth from the glowing embers.
            Many of the little urchins of the town along with some of the older citizens formed our audience at Sidney. After our thirty minute stop here was over we found that we had just enough time left to make Cheyenne before sunset, so we lost no time in getting there.
Likes Oyster Stew.
            Arriving at Cheyenne we were invited into a tent and served with hot oyster stew. The oysters were cooked in pure cream, and of all the food I got at the control stops this seemed to me to be the best of all as it went right to the spot.
            I am afraid I am having too much to say about the food we got on the trip. It would be indeed unfortunate if someone should take me for a Methodist minister![7]
            We had the water drained from the radiator and the engine and cockpit covered with canvass. Here there is an elevation of about four thousand feet and the weather was exceedingly cold.
Night at Cheyenne.
            Adjoining the field at Cheyenne is a big army post, Fort Russell, where Gen. Pershing was in command before the war. We were given quarters in the fort.
            After taking a hot bath, we were served in our rooms with a nice dinner. A Red Cross man gave Sergeant Kline and myself a woolen sweater and helmet of which we needed and highly appreciated.
            We made all our plans for getting away Friday morning at sunrise; then went to bed.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 25 Oct 1919]


Maynard, Kline and Trixie
The picture came from Digital Forsyth at




 With Frisco As Next Objective, Tar Heel Flier Was In Fine fettle As He Prepared To Leave Cheyenne At Sunrise: Then Radiator Burst and It Seemed Jig Was UP: Several Anxious moments While repairs Are Under Way: Across Range After Range of Snow Capped Mountains fliers Finally Wing Way To Salduro.


(Copyright, 1919, and published by permission of the Boston Traveller.)

            We got out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and after eating a hearty breakfast I remarked to Kline how nice it would be if we could land in Frisco that night. We were both feeling jubilant following the good night’s rest.
            After getting everything in readiness to start away we waited until about ten minutes before sunrise. Then I climbed into the cockpit and got the motor going.
            The motor seemed to warm up very nicely until the temperature got up to forty degrees, and then the motometer suddenly began to jump. It went to fifty, seventy, ninety, a hundred and ten. Then suddenly, there was a loud noise and the smoke blew back into my face.
Radiator Had Frozen.
            I stopped the motor, at once, thinking something had exploded and the machine had caught fire. Big gusts of smoke continued to emerge from the cowling. I got out and Kline said to me, “You have burst your radiator. Look at the water that has poured out on the ground.”
            We began searching, hoping that only a connection had blown loose, but nothing so fortunate as this.
            “It must be the radiator,” said Kline, “It can’t be anything else.”
            Just what should cause this was a mystery to me. I went about trying to find out. It soon occurred to me to try to blow through the overflow pipe running from the radiator.
            “Ah, now I’ve found the trouble,” I said to Kline.
            The overflow pipe was filled with ice and would not allow the water in the radiator to expand on becoming heated. Therefore, it had blown up. With the agility of two men playing football Kline and I went to work taking the radiator off.
            To do this we had to take the propeller off and loosen many connections. This made the task more difficult. Fearing our radiator was so badly damaged that we could not repair it I telegraphed to the commandant at Rawlins to know if we could get the radiator off of a ship that had come to grief on his field.
Several Anxious Moments.
            He told us that the pilot who smashed the plane was making repairs and would leave that day. We were thus thrown entirely on our own resources. While I was wiring to Rawlins Kline got the radiator off and I took it in a car to a garage in Cheyenne.
            You cannot imagine my anxiety as I watched the mechanic make a test of our radiator. I feared that it was pitted with holes, but when he filled it with water only one leak showed.
            This was on the outside where we could easily get at it. When I saw that the radiator was not seriously damaged I was the happiest man in eleven States. In a half hour it was repaired and I asked a man in the garage to take it back to the field for me.
Suffers Another Misfortune.
            He did so, but to make the misfortunes of the unfortunate more discouraging we punctured a tire going out to the field. This we changed in record time. When I reached the field I found Kline enjoying more of that hot oyster stew. He was surprised to see me back so quickly.
            We now united our efforts in getting the radiator back on. Many of the good people of the town came out to offer assistance. They very gladly ran errands for us.
            While we were working frantically a big Indian chief came over to pay deference to men whom he claimed had outclassed even himself and to ask for a ride. I really hated to have to refuse him, but he thanked me all the same in a very pleasant manner.
Finally They Get Away.
            Finally the morning was spent and after enjoying more of the oyster stew we prepared to get away. The control stop commander religiously warned me against the dangers of flying over the mountains. He said that I should follow the railroad.
            He told me the same thing so many times that he reminded me of the early days of my ministry when I, myself, would stand in the pulpit and tell the same story over and over and over again because I could think of nothing else to say.
            I finally decided he must at least be honest in his admonition. We took off from Cheyenne at 12:30, happy to be in the race again. I thought at first I would follow the railroads, but when I examined my route I saw that it took me about seventy-fine miles out of the way.
            When you are racing every mile counts so I soon changed my mind and headed out across the mountains. Soon we were in full view of a long chain of mountains all capped with snow. I had never seen a more beautiful sight. I rather cherished the hope that I would have to land up in the top of one of them.
            Think how long it would have taken you to climb up them compared with how easily I could have done it in the plane.
Over Mining Villages.
            Between Cheyenne and Rawlins we got our first sight of the little mining villages. We could see the machinery for mining operations with small railroads leading to the mine shafts, the small cottages built in the humblest sort of way, and the village school house with its flag proudly floating in the breeze.
            The children would invariably be outside the building, apparently waving a greeting to us. At the sound of an airplane motor it is my guess that the considerate mistress of the school would immediately declare a recess. How I wished I could anchor my plane on a sky hook and go down to return their greeting.
            Arriving at Rawlins we found a half mile race track cleared off for the landing field. I dropped my plane into the little rough field after the fashion of a bird suddenly perching itself on the limb of a tree.
            Our welcome here was warm and the service good. I found my eastbound comrade in misfortune still working on his plane. He had overshot the field about a hundred yards in attempting to land.
Pass Over Mountain Ranges.
            At Rawlings we were advised to skip Green River, the next control stop. I was happy to get authority to pass over it because of the half hour’s time that I would save.
            After we left Rawlins mountain after mountain loomed up before us. We would pass over one only to get a view of hundreds more ahead of us. Just south of Green River for about one hundred miles further west must be the most lonely country in the world.
            Four [sic] miles we went without seeing anything that looked like vegetation, beast, or human being. To land in that country meant a long walk at least. We followed a compass course and after two and one half hours came out over Salt Lake City.
            How nice it was to see the great Salt Lake peep up over the top of the last mountain. On this leg of the trip Trixie became very restless. She seemed to think she was being kept in the air too long.
            After we landed in Salt Lake City and were getting out of the machine, a big crowd gathered to see us come in, gave three loud cheers for the “Flying Parson.” This outburst of applause frightened Trixie, so she lost no time in running away. She soon came back, however, and our welcome to her was a genuine one.
            We used a narrow civilian landing field that was very good. When our time was up we took the air and flew out across the northern tip of the Great Salt Lake, then over a few mountains and the numerous salt deposits that form vast plains in this vicinity.
Spend Night at Salduro.
            In fifty three minutes we reached Salduro. “Salduro” is the Spanish word for salt. The landing field appeared from the air like bright, smooth glass. It’s corners were marked with something black instead of the customary white markers and the “T” on the field was also black.
            These salt beds extended for over a hundred miles, so the field was made amply large. I put the wheels to the ground before I reached the “T,” and then rolled and rolled a distance that seemed to me to be miles. When my plane slowed down to a speed of about twenty miles an hour it started making circles.
            Colonel Hartney said that he tied a big jack knife to the tail skid of his machine before he landed here so that he could stop rolling more quickly.
            The whole city is built on salt and the occupation of the people of Salduro is making potash and salt. Potash is the product which constitutes two per cent of the deposits about the city. The deposit is five feet deep. The other ninety eight per cent is salt which is worked as a by-product.
            We were warmly welcomed, given an excellent dinner, a hot bath, and then put to bed.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 26 Oct 1919]




If Engine Had Stopped while Flying Over Mountain Range Tar Heel Aviator Would Have Been Sadly Out of Luck; Rousing Welcomes Received Along Last leg of Trans-Continental Flight; San Francisco Looks Big Enough From Ground But Maynard Finds it Hard to Locate in Air; Reaches Journey’s End.

(Copyright, 1919, and published by permission of the Boston Traveller.)

            After a good night’s rest in Salduro, the city of Salt, and a wholesome breakfast we were ready for the tasks of a new day. The manager of the salt plant asked me to take two bags of salt to a member of the concern in San Francisco which we were glad to do.
            Exactly as the sun peeped over the hills we got off the ground. We were becoming accustomed to the mountains by this time and did not think much about them.
            To break the monotony of a seemingly unending chain of peaks we found a few large plains or flats which were marked on or maps as “alkali lakes,” “alkali flats,” or other similar names.
Lakes With No Water.
            When I first noticed these on the map I began looking all over the country for water which I never found. If these depressions were ever covered with water I had chosen the wrong season of the year to find it.
            I learned later that the snow on the mountain tops was melted in the spring time and furnished water for these temporary lakes. After crossing many of these I spied a small cluster of green trees easily distinguished from the stern and unfruitful country which surrounded it.
            In among the trees I found the proud little village of Battle Mountain. It is situated among many gold, silver, and copper mines and is noted, especially for its copper mines.
Given Rousing Welcome.
            On landing there I received a rousing welcome. I soon learned that Capt. Lowell Smith whom I had met in North Platte was a much loved and honored citizen of Battle Mountain. His friends said they could not wish that I would win, but did wish that I could take second place.
            Every one of them shook my hand, made pictures of me, and wished me Godspeed. When later I had a few moments to reflect I could not help but remember the unusual hospitality with which they received me, so I make special mention of it. In turn they wired me to stop over in Battle Mountain on my return, if possible.
            We left here after the usual half hour and headed for the much famous city of Reno. The scenery was quite as usual with a couple of small salt lakes adding a touch of beauty to the landscape.
Clouds Delay Landing.
            I arrived in the vicinity where I thought Reno should be and found the country covered with fog. I could scarcely see the ground through it. Eagerly I searched in every direction for the field, losing twenty minutes before I could locate it.
            It was suggested later by a friend of mine that perhaps the Lord spread a cloud over the city to keep a good preacher from landing there. However true this may be I was glad to find the field and landed as quickly as possible. I was warmly welcomed and, strange to say, the people of Reno seemed quite the same as other folks.
            Reno has a one-way landing field, which is very good. It is located down between two high mountains which make it rather difficult to get out of.
Over Sierra Nevada Range.
            Kline and I got away from Reno, fortunately, without the usual loss of wife [sic]. Out of Reno we found the most beautiful country of the entire trip. Five minutes after leaving the field we were going over the first of the Sierra Nevada mountains. These are all capped with snow and dotted with fir trees.
            The valleys are very narrow and look more like gorges. Some fifteen minutes out of Reno we passed about two miles north of Lake Tahoe. It is set seven thousand feet above sea level amid the tallest of the Sierras with their peaks of silver white, as if some Divine hand might have placed it there with a thought of perfect beauty.
            Thousands of lovers of nature find a satisfaction to their desires here every year. The Californians should be the most thankful people in the whole United States for nature has so richly blessed them.
Nowhere To Land Plane.
            This part of the country in addition to being the most beautiful to look upon is also the most dangerous to fly over. Nowhere on or among the Sierras is there room to land an airplane. This condition extends for about one hundred miles, and it is here that the motor is your best friend.
            After crossing the mountains at thirteen thousand feet I began losing altitude. Soon the air became very warm and the motor began to heat up. Now I realized that I was once more laboring under what I considered normal conditions.
            We were less than an hour in reaching Sacramento. Here there is a government landing field. Many enthusiastic people were out to welcome us and a dozen girls of the Red Cross ministered to our needs. They also insisted that we have our photographs made together, so after the pictures and a little lunch we left on the last hop to the coast.
            At the end of thirty-five minutes we had passed over the last little mountain ridge which encircles the bay. We had no trouble locating the bay, but the city and the golden Gate were shrouded in fog which made it impossible to locate the field from a distance.
Frisco Hard To Find.
            I was half way across the bay before I could see the shore of the peninsula. Even then I could see nothing that looked like streets or the city of San Francisco.
            Judging from what I could see of the shore line I thought that the city should be a little farther south. On flying to the southward for five minutes I soon discovered that the city could not be there. Therefore, I turned and headed to the north, flying very low.
            Presently I caught a glimpse of tall buildings. Sneaking in low over them I appeared suddenly without warning to the host of anxious enthusiasts who were looking for me in the other direction.
Finally Land at Presidio
            I side-slipped to a landing in the long narrow field along the shore at the Presidio. We were awaited by many officials of the army and the city. General Menoher, chief of the air services; General Liggett, commanding the western department; and Colonel Arnold, aeronautical officer for the western department, were among the army officers to greet us.
            Mayor Rolfe welcomed us in behalf of the city. After a short interview with the newspaper men and after smiling for scores of determined photographers until my cheeks became cramped, we were dragged away from the crowd and motored to the Palace hotel for luncheon. This hostelry opened its doors to all the flyers for which we are much indebted.
Delivers Bags of Salt
            When we had finished luncheon we got rid of our cargo. A letter given to us by Colonel Miller, commandant at Roosevelt field, we mailed, not being able to locate the party to whom it was addressed. The bags of salt we delivered to Mr. Cobb as requested. Mr. Cobb was delighted and told us a few interesting things about what we had done. He said that in Egypt hundreds of years ago trade routes were established for the transportation of salt. Salt was also used as currency.
            According to Mr. Cobb the Egyptians would have required forty days to transport salt with their primitive means of travel over the same route that we had covered in less than five hours.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 27 Oct 1919]

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, CA) 12 Oct 1919



Instead of Congratulating Her Husband On His Exploit, Mrs. Maynard Directs Him Not to Fly Back; Every Baptist Church in Frisco Invites “Flying Parson” to Preach But He Could Only Accept Two of Them; Sergeant Kline Spends Time Resting After Arrival; Again Cross Dreadful Sierras.


(Copyright, 1919, and published by permission of the Boston Traveler.)

            Kline and I were very tired and a little rest seemed good. We received many telegrams of congratulations, and I received one from my wife ordering me not to fly back.
            I found a telegram awaiting me from my home county in good old North Carolina. It read: “In behalf of your parents and the people of Sampson county, North Carolina, congratulations upon your marvelous feat.”
            My reply to this message was as follows: I have received with pleasure the telegraphic congratulations which you have tendered me, and my only regret is that I could not have had every one of you with me on the fight I have just finished. It shows that the east is only three days from the west and if I chose I could be back with you in three days. San Francisco reminds me of our God’s country of the east. My comfort and happiness at reaching here cannot be expressed. Again many thanks for your interest.”
            I received many telegrams from my old aviator friends which cheered me very much. A typical message read like this: “Lt. B. W. Maynard: Congratulations—All betting on you and know you will win. Signed, M. F. Lee.”
Invitations to preach.
            I received, I think, invitations from every Baptist church in San Francisco. In addition to these we received invitations for dinners and luncheons for the ten days following our arrival.[8]
            We were also invited by many different people to tour California in automobiles. We were furnished with a car which we used at will while we were there.
            The whole city opened its doors to us and to say that we were happy does not half express our feelings. Until Sunday night we thought that we were going to be allowed to stay until Oct. 20, before we were to start back.
            Then we received a wire from Washington stating that we should be allowed only forty-eight hours. You can imagine our disappointment.
Speaks in Two Churches.
            On Sunday I attended the First Baptist church and the Hamilton Square Baptist church ad made a short talk at each place. I enjoyed these services very much.
            Kline spent most of his time resting and sleeping. He seemed to be dreadfully tired and when I learned that I was to leave on Tuesday [October 14] at 1:12 P.M. I endeavored to rest up a little myself.
            One other pilot, Captain Crayton, arrived on Monday from the East, closely followed by several others. On Monday I learned of the coming of King Albert, of Belgium, and invited him to ride with me over the beautiful city of San Francisco, but because of his time being limited he could not accept.
Declines King’s Invitation.
            In return I was invited to a luncheon in his honor scheduled for 12:30 Tuesday. On account of the fact that I wished to leave at 1:12 I was forced, though with much regret, to decline the invitation.
            Trixie enjoyed her stay in California very much, and when 1:12 p.m. Tuesday arrived she did not appear to care much about leaving. We spent a busy morning getting things in shape for the start.
            At 1:12 we were all ready to leave, but there were so many of our friends out to say good-bye and wish us Godspeed that we lost a few minutes in getting off. We shook hands with them and finally succeeded in getting away at 1:22 p.m.—ten minutes late.
            What possibilities for several days of genuine enjoyment we turned our backs upon as we headed out across the bay and what a hard path lay ahead of us!
Determined to Win.
            Nevertheless we were just as determined to win as ever. The advantage we had gained on the first lap encouraged us and made victory look easy.
            We retraced our course across the Sacramento valley which we found very rough, flying against a head win all the time. On arriving in Sacramento our first demand was for something to eat. We had been so busy at San Francisco that we had not had time for luncheon.
            It was no trouble to get something to eat as those same blessed little Red Cross girls were only too happy to serve us.
Dreadful Sierras Again.
            On leaving Sacramento we headed across those dreadful Sierras again. One hour later we had arrived in Reno and I was happy because I knew that the worst country of all to fly over was then behind me.
            I wired my wife that I was happy to be back even in Reno as long as I was on my way home. On our return stop we found much more interest in us than when we were going west.
            At Reno everybody was rooting for us. The mayor gave me a letter for Senator Henderson in Washington, D.C. From Reno we went to Battle Mountain where the sun went down, preventing further flying.
Entertainment Provided.
            We were cheered wildly on our arrival, heartily congratulated and then taken to the Hotel Nevada. Here we were notified that we should be taken to the school house at 6:30 where we would be served dinner after which there would be a program of entertainment.
            We accepted the invitation and found a large modern school building with all conveniences. In a warm, pleasant room we found a table spread with most delicious viands. There we dined with some of the local boys who had seen service overseas.
            When we finished dinner we adjourned to the auditorium where a very enjoyable program had been prepared in our honor. After the entertainment I was called on for a speech.
            Upon completing my few remarks I was presented with a pure gold nugget just as it was taken from a mine near Battle Mountain.
            Then Kline was asked to say a few words. He was presented with three arrow heads to be divided between Kline, myself and Trixie. They were given to us because we were the pioneers, to cross the continent by airplane.
We expressed our appreciation for the honor they had done us. Then the chairs were moved away, the music started, and the floor was quickly covered with happy couples.
            Kline and I soon left and went to bed.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 28 Oct 1919]




Aviator, However, Had Narrow Escape From 

Collision With Mountain




Reaching Green River On Heels of Snow Storm Daring fliers Have Tough Time Finding Way Through Clouds Over Mountains; Sundown Finds Them at Sidney, Neb.


(Copyright, 1919, and published by permission of the Boston Traveller.)

            We were up before the chickens on Wednesday morning. Very few of the inhabitants of Battle Mountain were out to see us off. One good brother came out and brought us some more clothing, fearing that we would catch cold on that chilly morning.
            When we reached the field, we found the motor already warmed up and in shape to go. We put on our wraps, told the few friends who were there, good bye, and headed in the direction of Salduro.
Valleys Filled with Fog.
            Shortly after leaving I found that all the valleys were filled with fog. I could see no cities, no railroads, no roads and no lakes. All that was left to guide me on my course was the mountain tops and my compass. I expected that when I arrived at Salduro I should find it too, covered with fog. On and on we went, steering solely by our compass and guessing where the railroads and towns should be by the contour of the country.
            We finally crossed the last mountain top before reaching Salduro, finding the sky clear around the little city of Salt. I was rather hoping to find it foggy, so I could have an excuse to go on to Salt Lake City, thus saving thirty minutes.
            No such luck. We again landed on the slippery salt bed. This time we made a wonderful success of it. More hearty greetings were accorded us with thanks for delivering the two bags of salt to San Francisco. This time Trixie did not attempt to eat the substance so abundant around here.
Gives Exhibition Flight.
            Soon we were off for Salt Lake City. On reaching there I found the city covered with smoke and had difficulty in finding the field. I flew almost directly over it, but did not see it. A large crowd awaited us here and reports of stormy weather at Green River held us up for a while.
            In the meantime, I was asked to fly a civilian airplane that was being used for passenger carrying. Everybody was anxious to see me give a little exhibition. After much persuasion, I reluctantly agreed to take this marvelous little ship into the air; or at least, to attempt it.
            The plane was a Curtiss JN-4, with a Sturtevant motor, a combination that I had never seen before. Some newspaper reporter who did not care much for his life consented to go with me.
Maynard Gets Scared.
            I noticed there wasn’t much wind, so I decided it would make but little difference which way I took off. I “opened the gun” and started across the field’ we kept going, but on the ground. I thought the machine would never take the air. (Remember the elevation at Salt Lake is about 5,000 feet. This altitude, combined with a low-powered plane, made things more perilous than I had calculated.)
            We came to the end of the field, still hopping helplessly along the ground; knocked down a small frame house and a plank fence; then we struck a bump in the road, bounded up into the air, and happily for us both, didn’t come down again.
            Over ditches, fences and buildings we went, with just enough altitude to clear them. After a mile, I came to a tree, and here turned to the left to miss hitting it.
            We went on for fifteen minutes, finally attaining an altitude of 1,000 feet. You can imagine my fitness for aerobatics after the hair-breadth escape in the “take-off”. I did a few, however, and then came down.
Mixes Up With Clouds.
            Nothing about our machine was broken, but I felt shaky over it all the rest of the day. On returning from this adventure, we found the weather had cleared at Green River; so we hurried along across the rockies.
            Soon after arriving over the mountains, I got mixed up with a few clouds, but soon rose above them, climbing to 13,000 feet. We arrived at Green River closely on the heels of a snowstorm and the weather looked threatening ahead of us. Here the population came running out to see Trixie.
            Kline and I ate a nice steak; then went on to Rawlins, fortunately not encountering as rough weather as we had expected.
            At Rawlings, we met two westbound machines. From Rawlins to Cheyenne the weather was fierce. Snow-storm after snow-storm, we managed to get by.
Conditions soon became more serious. We were flying between two mountain ranges. I had just passed over one and knew the other range was not far ahead, but I could not see it on account of two swirling snow-storms ahead of us that merged into each other.
Narrowly Misses Mountain.
            Where the two storms came together, there was a narrow opening of light. I headed for this small gap. To pass under the clouds I was forced to lose some altitude which gave me less elevation that the tops of the mountains I knew were ahead of us.
            Through the narrow opening we went, and just as we passed through those mountains loomed up directly ahead of us. I climbed as steeply as I could, clearing them by about 150 feet.
            After this incident we had no trouble in reaching Cheyenne. At Cheyenne, we remained a half hour, eating of course, more of the hot oyster stew. Just at sundown, we reached Sidney. Here we found the field covered with snow, which made it difficult to locate.
            The weather was extremely cold. We prepared everything for the night and went into the little city of Sidney. Kline and I were feeling good; so we attended a movie show, after which we retired.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 29 Oct 1919]

This picture is on the Winston-Salem Time Traveler website,
and came from  the Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.





With Plane “Gone Dead” Maynard Drops Down 

In Middle of Western Plain




Sergeant Kline Goes to Work With Determination While Aviator Gets Busy In Arranging For New Engine; Tired Out Flier Spends Night In A Country Home


(Copyright, 1919, and published by permission of the Boston Traveller.)

Thursday morning at Sidney was cold and bitter. The chilly breeze felt almost unbearable and snow was falling freely. This unpleasant weather was most discouraging and we feared that we were going to be delayed.
A report had been received from North Platte to hold us until further orders, but when we had everything in readiness to leave the orders were rescinded.
The light eastern horizon which we could see through the drifting snow flakes gave us fresh hope. Soon we were off again and on reaching North Platte we found several of the aviators from the East there and still more coming in.
Two Happy Flyers.
For two days they had been held up at St. Paul on account of bad weather. There were eleven flyers on the field at North Platte.
            The weather had cleared and was beautiful now, so the prospects for a good day’s run became very encouraging. We exchanged compliments with the westbound pilots and answered many of their eager questions about the country that lay ahead of them.      From North Platte we flew to St. Paul, Neb., where we net two more planes. The weather was still good; the motor was running fluely [sic], and we were very happy.
A plane never carried two more jubilant spirits than old “Hello Frisco”[9] carried away from St. Paul that day. Across the beautiful level country of Nebraska we flew at about 2,500 feet.
Motor “Went Dead.”
            About noon, without a moment’s notice, the motor “went dead.” It didn’t catch me napping, however. I was ready for it.
            Heading for what appeared to be a good landing place I used the few minutes left me to see if I could discover what was wrong and if possible remedy it.
            I could find nothing wrong. All my instruments were working nicely; but the motor, the old reliable Liberty that had never failed me before, was dead. I landed very easily in a good level field.
            Before I had time to turn in my seat, Kline was out demanding what was wrong. I frankly admitted that I didn’t know; but suggested that I thought the ignition system was “on the blink.” Immediately he took off the distributor head, declaring that it looked alright.
            “Turn the propeller,” he said.
            I turned it, and then he saw that the distributor was not working.
            “We have a broken cam shaft,” said Kline.
            I turned the propeller again for him while he examined the valves. The valves on neither cam were working.
            “Something worse than a cam shaft,” said he.
Crank Shaft Broken.
            He jumped down and turned the propeller several times himself. Finding no compression at all in four cylinders he looked at me in a sickening sort of way and pronounced what I took for a death sentence:
            “We have broken the crank shaft!”
            In reply I said: “Well, I guess we are through.”
            To console myself and him I laughed and suggested what a wonderful chance we had now to rest and get something good to eat away out in Nebraska.
            Kline didn’t like the idea at all. He asked where we could get a motor and declared that there was that there was not one he knew of nearer than Chicago.
Some Quick Thinking.
            I gathered my wits and soon remembered that I had seen in a San Francisco paper just before leaving the coast that Capt. Roy W. Francis had “smashed” in his Martin bomber somewhere near Omaha. I ran to the nearest telephone; got in touch with the control stop commander at Omaha, and asked about the “Martin.”
            He said that it had crashed at Yutan [Nebraska] and that Captain Francis was making arrangements to get the motors out that day and ship them back to Mineola.
            Captain Francis came to the telephone and told me I was welcome to one of the motors so far as he was concerned, telling me at the same time which one was the better of the two.
            I asked the officials to wire Washington for authority to use one of the motors and said that I was going to go ahead and take one.
            When I asked where Yutan was there came a quick response from a bystander. “It is only eleven miles away,” he said.
            I told Kline to go to work and take the old motor out and to leave the rest to me. I located a mechanic who had worked on the naval sea planes N.C.-3 and N.C. -4 and got him to assist Kline.
Commandeers Automobile.
            Next I commandeered the first automobile that passed and asked the driver to take me to Yutan. He did so, and upon reaching there we found two mechanics already at work removing the motor. They had been instructed over the phone by Francis that I was going to take one of the motors.
            Soon the truck I had sent for arrived from Omaha, and I arranged with the men in charge to take the motor to my machine.
            On returning I found the plane drawn up beside a tree and in a short time the mechanics had the motor out.
Sleeps in County Home.
            The people of Wahoo, the little town four miles away, were very kind. They could not seem to do enough for us. They furnished us with a Deko portable lighting system and an operator who worked all night.
News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 1 Feb. 1919

            About dark the motor from the Martin arrived. We labored like mad men putting it in. About eleven o’clock I decided to go to bed so that I should be in shape to fly the next day.
            Mr. Smith, the manager of the county home, kindly offered me accommodations at his home, which I accepted.
            The two mechanics worked on through the night.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 30 Oct 1919]





The “Victory Cake,” Prepared By Mrs. Maynard 

For Occasion, Is Served




Trixie, Not Knowing That The Journey Was Over, Jumps Into Automobile For Ride; Big Crowds Give Fliers Warm Receptions On Last Leg of Their Flight


(Copyright, 1919, and Published by Permission of the Boston Traveler.)

                Next morning I returned to the field before daylight and found the plane almost ready to fly again.
            We ran the motor for a few minutes in order to test it. Then we took off at sunrise as usual, arriving at Omaha before the contest commander had reached the grounds.
            Here I should have changed maps, but forgot to do so. I left the aerodrome without a map, so was forced to comeback to get it and hunt it in the map case.
            Eventually we arrived at Des Moines, finding conditions very smoky. From Des Moines we went to Rock Island, encountering more rough weather. It seems that this part of the country is always rough and “bumpy.”
Meets Billy Sunday.
            At Rock Island we were met by Billy Sunday, “Ma” Sunday, and Rodeheaver[10]. We received a cordial welcome from them and from the mayor of Rock Island.
            Sunday gave me a photograph of himself on the back of which he inscribed the following: “To Lieutenant Maynard—he leads; others follow.” It is needless to say that I appreciated this highly.
            With “Ma” Sunday’s “God Bless You” ringing in my ears I left Rock Island with a feeling that I was going to win.
            Rough weather accompanied us to Chicago. Several times, while the machine was being tossed about like a canoe on a rough sea, the motor missed fire.
            At Chicago we landed in Grant Park. Thousands of people were assembled there to greet us. They were Anxious for us to remain for the night, but we still had plenty of sunlight, so left Chicago and headed out across Lake Michigan. We arrived at Bryan soon afterwards. The towns people of Bryan appeared to be taking great interest in the contest and hundreds were out to greet us.
Entertained in Cleveland.
            We reached Cleveland about sunset. Here I was met by an old aviator friend, A. F. Baker, whose father publishes the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Bakers took us out to their palatial home where every comfort was afforded us.
            Kline, who had not slept a wink the preceding night, took a hot bath, fell into bed, and was asleep in five minutes. I sat up long enough to eat dinner.
            Saturday was to be our day of triumph. We felt it. Mineola before 2 o’clock was our motto.
Many Cordial Receptions.
            We were a few minutes late in leaving Cleveland. At Buffalo many people came out to shake us by the hand and congratulate us.   
            We found the field at Buffalo in bad condition on account of recent rains. Losing a little time in getting our motor started we finally got away again after a stop of forty-four minutes instead of the customary thirty
            Rochester opened its arms to us too. Lieutenant Bailey, an old pilot friend of mine and the control stop commander, greeted us with a genuine welcome.
            We lost no time in getting from Rochester to Binghampton [sic] where I was greeted by a delegation of preachers from Binghampton [sic] and vicinity.
            They presented me with flowers which I greatly appreciated. Binghampton [sic], in the warmth of its welcome, gave me a little foretaste of what was awaiting me at New York.
            Soon we were on our way to Mineola, happy as larks; but not until my ship came within gliding distance of Roosevelt field did I feel perfectly satisfied.

Taken from the News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 24 Oct 1919 Page 20
Back at Mineola Again.
            After circling above the field we landed near the crowd that was awaiting us and then “taxied” close up to the throng.
            Lake a flash I saw my little wife rush to the side of the machine. I stopped my motor and then leaped to the ground to be caught in her embrace.
            It was indeed a happy moment and the newspaper photographers were most accommodating in asking us to repeat the performance several times.
            Trixie ran and jumped into an automobile, not knowing that she had reached home again. But when she at last found the children she seemed to be just as happy as I was.
            After an official welcome from Col. Archie Miller and an interview with a score of reporters from the New York papers, I was driven to my humble little cottage, where a chicken dinner with a “Victory Cake”, specially made by my wife furnished a very culmination to our achievement.
[News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 31 Oct 1919]


[1] Due to fuel limitations, 21 stops were set up along the route from New York to California. Each aviator was required to land at each of these stops and remain there for a minimum of 30 minutes, after which he could continue to the next stop. Because the fields were unlit, they could only fly during the daylight. The control stops were Binghamton, Rochester, and Buffalo, New York; Cleveland and Bryan, Ohio; Chicago and Rock Island, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, St. Paul, North Platte and Sidney, Nebraska; Cheyenne, Wolcott and Green River, Wyoming; Salt Lake City and Salduro, Utah; Battle Mountain and Reno, Nevada; and Sacramento, California. The average distance between controls was 123 miles. 
[2] Maynard was the speed winner of New York-Toronto race which took place in the summer of 1919. Maynard had an average speed of 133.8 mph.
[3] New York-Toronto Race
[4] Harry Hawker attempted to fly across the Atlantic, taking off May 18, 1919. He was forced to ditch the plane, but was rescued by a passing ship. With no way to make contact, Hawker was thought to have died until the ship came within sight of land and the ship’s captain signaled, with flags, that he had the aviator.
[5] Billy Sunday, an early baseball player, became the most famous evangelist of the early 20th century.
[6] Some contestants started from Mineola, NY, flying west while others started in San Francisco flying east. The trip was to be a round trip.
[7] Maynard was a Baptist minister.
[8] They were originally scheduled begin the return flight on October 20. This was later changed.
[9] This was the name of Maynard’s plane.
[10] An evangelist, composer of gospel songs,  and Billy Sunday’s music director

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