ATLANTIC FOKKER C-2 TRANSPORT AAC # 26-202
THE TRANS-PACIFIC “BIRD OF PARADISE”
This airplane is a Fokker trimotor transport, designated “C-2” by
the military (S/N 26-202; ATC #56). It was acquired
by the Army Air Corps in 1926. An excellent summary
of the technical specifications of our airplane, including
images during modification for a trans-Pacific voyage, is
available here. The airplane was named the "Bird of Paradise." Below, an undated photograph of the airplane posed on a clover field with an unidentified bystander.
Fokker 26-202, Date & Location Unknown (Source: EAFB)
This is a very special airplane. It is the first aircraft
to fly across the Pacific Ocean from the mainland U.S. to
Hawaii. It did this on June 28-29, 1927, and the pilots
who flew it to Hawaii, Lt. Lester J. Maitland and Albert
F. Hegenberger are the same ones who brought the airplane
They landed at Tucson, on June 20, 1927 accompanied by passengers Jim Riviera, Fred Jesman (?) and Bradley Jones. Based at Washington, DC, they arrived from El Paso, TX westbound to San Diego, CA. They wrote
in the Remarks column, "Honolulu or bust". They
were not busted. A week later they successfully navigated
and flew the 2,400 miles from San Francisco, CA to Hawaii,
in 25 hours and 50 minutes, the longest open sea flight to-date. They
received the Mackey Trophy and the Distinguished Flying Cross
from President Coolidge for this achievement.
An overview of the flight, as well as images, is available here.
Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is another undated photograph of the airplane. The rudder is painted in a different pattern than in the image above, or in the images below after it reached Hawaii. I don't know if the photograph below pre-dates or post-dates the trans-Pacific flight. If you can shed some light on this, please let me KNOW.
Fokker 26-202, Bird of Paradise, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
After Tucson, the airplane was staged at Oakland, CA before the trans-Pacific flight. Below, from site visitor Roger Holden, is an image of 26-202 on the ground at Oakland. Interestingly, is is pictured with a civilian companion the "City of Oakland," which followed it to Honolulu July 14, 1927. The "City of Oakland: was a Travel Air 5000 high-winged monoplane.
"Bird of Paradise" (L) and the "City of Oakland", Oakland, CA, ca. June, 1927 (Source: Holden)
Caption, "Bird of Paradise" (L) and the "City of Oakland", Oakland, CA, ca. June, 1927 (Source: Holden)
The "Bird of Paradise" and the "City of Oakland" weren't the only aircraft across the Pacific during the summer of 1927. The "Woolaroc," another Travel Air 5000, made the trip in August. The pilot was Art Goebel and the navigator was Wm. V. Davis, Jr. See the books cited in the left sidebar for further information about their victory in the Dole Race across the Pacific.
Four images below are gratefully accepted from site visitor
Tim Kalina (right sidebar). They have not been published elsewhere
to our knowledge.
Tim says, “These [images], obviously, were taken
at Wheeler Field at the end of the flight from the mainland.… One
neat thing about the Bird of Paradise are those unusual Micarta
propellers. These were produced by Westinghouse and were
an early type of laminated plastic. The Fokker 'Southern
Cross' also had Micarta propellers. These were expensive
propellers (compared to wood ones) so you don't see them
often. I assume steel propellers proved better than the Micarta
and they were discontinued.”
Notice the clothing styles on the people. This is the month
of June in Hawaii. The only ones who look comfortable are
the children in shorts. The young, bobbed flapper on the
right is wearing a late style, as this image from the 1922
Montgomery Ward catalog shows. She probably paid near $7
for her dress!
Below, right, is an advertisement for Micarta from an unidentifiable
Kalina notes in an email to me, “I understand that
Micarta is still used to make knife handles. And like Formica,
it was promoted in the 1930s for a wide range of household
products. I have attached a scan of an old ad for Micarta
propellers that features the Bird of Paradise.” Interestingly, George Westinghouse was a Register pilot.
And further, according to the link cited above for the airplane, “The ‘Bird
of Paradise' remained in service in Hawaii as a transport
plane for about 10 years. In the late 1930's the aircraft
was disassembled and shipped to the Air Corps Museum at Wright
Field. The aircraft was destroyed in 1944 because of a critical
shortage of storage space needed for the war effort. The
USAF has a few artifacts from the ‘Bird of Paradise’ on
display [at its museum in Dayton, OH] including a main landing
gear wheel and tire and a stool used by the crew [Hegenberger]
to "shoot" the sun (or stars) during position checks
with a sextant.”
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/01/06 REVISED: 09/30/07, 02/04/08, 05/12/10, 01/10/14, 12/08/14