Clyde Edward Pangborn bigraphy, stories - Pilots

Clyde Edward Pangborn : biography

October 28, 1895 - March 29, 1958

Clyde Edward Pangborn (October 28, 1895 – March 29, 1958) also known as "Upside-Down Pangborn" was an American aviator who performed aerial stunts during the 1920s. Along with his co-pilot, Hugh Herndon, Jr., Pangborn was the first person to fly non-stop across the Pacific Ocean.


He was discharged from the RAF in 1946 and continued his career as a commercial pilot. As part of his work, he pioneered commercial flight paths and helped to develop better aircraft, among other accomplishments. At the end of his life, he was instrument-rated to fly any single or multi-engine, land or sea plane and had more than 24,000 flight hours in the cockpit from his 40 years of piloting.


His papers were archived at Washington State University. Washington State University. Retrieved: April 28, 2008. Quote: "Clyde Edward Pangborn, son of Max Pangborn and Opal Lamb Pangborn, was born in Bridgeport, Washington; his birthdate is uncertain, with various documents indicating 1893, 1894, and 1896."

Failed attempt to circumnavigate globe

In 1931, Pangborn and Herndon sought to fly around the world and break the current record of 20 days and 4 hours, set by the airship Graf Zeppelin in 1929. Herndon had financial backing from his wealthy New York family. However, while they were still planning their flight, the record was broken by Wiley Post and Harold Gatty and re-established at 8 days and 15 hours. Pangborn and Herndon attempted the flight anyway, taking off from New York on July 28, 1931 in their red /*Bellanca J-300 Long Distance Special*/, the Miss Veedol, but poor weather conditions forced them to abandon their efforts halfway through the trip, while in Siberia. Time (magazine)May 22, 1933. Retrieved: April 28, 2008. Quote: "In July, 1931 Hugh Herndon Jr., youthful Manhattan socialite, and Clyde Edward Pangborn, hard-bitten barnstormer, took off from New York City for a speed flight around the world. "

World War II

When the war broke out in Europe in late 1939, Pangborn joined the Royal Air Force and assisted in organizing the RAF Ferry Command. He recruited pilots throughout the United States and Canada"Clyde Pangborn, Wife to Kiss and Make Up." The Milwaukee Journal, August 11, 1940. for the Ferry Command and Eagle Squadron. From 1941 through the end of the war in 1945, Pangborn served as Senior Captain, Royal Air Force Ferry Command during which time he made approximately 170 trans-ocean flights (crossing both the Atlantic and the Pacific). In 1942 he brought the first Lancaster heavy bomber to the United States for tests and later returned with the same aircraft and demonstrated it to the United States Army Air Forces and major aircraft builders throughout the U. S. and Canada. During his tour with the Ferry Command, Pangborn flew almost every type of multi-engine aircraft used during the war.

Prior to World War II, he also became the Chief Test Pilot for Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware. In 1937 he demonstrated Burnelli Aircraft in England and Europe for Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Company of Southampton, England. Pangborn remained with Cunliffe-Owen through the late 1930s where he tested military aircraft.

Trans-Pacific flight

With their eyes on a $25,000 prize, Pangborn and Herndon next decided to attempt the first nonstop trans-Pacific flight. They flew from Siberia to Japan in preparation. In the spirit of documentation, Herndon took several still pictures as well as some 16mm motion pictures, which included some of Japan's naval installations. Because of the photography, combined with their inadequate documentation to enter the country (a fact they hadn't been aware of), the men were jailed. They were eventually released with a $1000 fine, but they were allowed only one chance to take off in Miss Veedol; if they returned to Japan, the plane would be confiscated and the men would return to prison.

Other complications hampered the flight. Pangborn and Herndon's maps and charts were stolen by the nationalist Black Dragon Society, who wanted a Japanese pilot flying Japanese equipmentHeikell, p..136 to be the first to complete the endeavor. They also had extremely precise calculations for their flight, leaving no room for error; Miss Veedol had to be overweighted with fuel, way beyond the manufacturer's recommendation (650 gallons stock was expanded to 915), and they would need to abandon their landing gear after take-off to reduce drag.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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