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Stasys Girènas (L) & Steponas Darius, Ca. 1933 (Source: COA)
Stasys Girènas (L) & Steponas Darius, Ca. 1933 (Source: COA)


Steponas Darius and Stasys Girènas were signed in the Floyd Bennett Field Register on May 7, 1933. They were flying the Bellanca NR688E, a model CH-300, S/N 137, manufactured in 1929. They had left Chicago, IL the day before. The events leading up to their departure, the departure and arrival at New York are shown in contemporary news footage at the link.

We find them in Brooklyn about two months before they attempted a trans-atlantic flight from New York to Kaunas, Lithuania. They noted their intended itinerary in the Register. Photograph, left, courtesy of the Cradle of Aviation Museum, (COA) Garden City, NY.

They arrived at Brooklyn from Chicago, IL, where their airplane had undergone modifications in anticipation of their trip, including long-range fuel tanks and modified oil cooling. Their airplane was named "Lituanica," the Latinized name of their home country.

Darius was born January 8, 1896 in Russia. He emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1907 and became a citizen. He served in the U.S. Army during WWI and was wounded. Darius moved back to Lithuania and served in the military there before returning to the U.S. in 1927. He dabbled in commercial air transport. Note that he had Americanized his name to Stephen, which he used in the Register.

Girėnas was born October 4, 1893. He followed a path to the U.S. similar to that of Darius. His family settled in Chicago and he served in the U.S. Army during WWI. After the war, he drove a cab and learned to fly before acquiring an airplane in 1925.

On July 15, 1933, the pair departed New York for Kaunas, Lithuania. The departure was uneventful, as was their flight across the Atlantic Ocean. They made it to just a few hundred miles of their final destination when weather and engine problems caused them to crash in a forested area in eastern Germany. Both of them were killed and their airplane was destroyed. The film linked above shows footage of the crash.

The pilots have a good Web presence and enjoy national hero status, with several memorials erected to their memory in the U.S. and in Europe. Their flight was attempted again two years later in the Lockheed Vega Model 5B (S/N 134) NC926Y, named "Lituanica II." Please direct your browser to the airplane for details of the second attempt.



The Register

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