PILOT STORIES: Bertaud,
||November 16, 1924
|Air Mail Service Ended:
||July 2, 1927
|Total Hours Flown:
|Total Miles Flown:
Lloyd W. Bertaud's airmail service was
unremarkable. Before he joined the service, he test flew airplanes,
including the infamous JL-6 all metal monoplane built by the
Junkers company. On December 29, 1921, Bertaud and co-pilot
Eddie Stinson set a world endurance record in that airplane,
carrying 350 gallons of gas and 23 gallons of oil, flying
through a snowstorm over Long Island, New York.
After his years in the airmail service, Bertaud
continued to try and make aviation history. Along with co-pilot
Clarence Chamberlin, Bertaud hoped to pilot a airplane called
"Columbia," a single-engine monoplane designed
by Giuseppe Bellanca, across the Atlantic for the first non-stop
flight between New York and Paris. Two other sets of pilots
and airplanes were also getting ready to make that historic trip,
including "The Spirit of St. Louis," to be flown
by ex-airmail pilot Charles A. Lindbergh. The groups waited
together at Roosevelt Field near New York City for a break
in the weather to begin their journeys. On May 20, at 7:54
a.m., only one pilot believed the slight break in the weather
was enough to get through, and Charles Lindbergh went on to
make aviation history.
Bertaud and his old airmail buddy James DeWitt
Hill began making plans for another trans-Atlantic flight.
This one would take them from New York City to Rome. They
found a sponsor in newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst.
Flying an aircraft named "Old Glory," the pair
took off on September 6, 1927 at 12:23 p.m. Hill was flying
the airplane, Bertaud manning the radio, and Philip Payne riding
as an observer for Hearst's paper.
The airplane was last heard from at 3:55 p.m. when
a SOS signal was sent out. Ships were sent out immediately
to search the area, but no sign of the airplane or crew. On September
12, the S.S. Kyle located some of the wreckage. The
crew was never found.
Learn more about Bertaud and Hill's flight
in "Old Glory."