PILOT STORIES: Christensen,
||March 15, 1920
||April 29, 1921
||College Park, Maryland
||March 29, 1920 – Cleveland,
||May 13, 1920 – Chicago,
||March 1, 1921 – Hazelhurst
Field, New York
||April 16, 1921 – Chicago,
Christensen snagged a speed record when he
flew the Omaha – Chicago Mail on December 14, 1920 in
the then amazing time of two hours, 45 minutes. Christensen
had averaged about 162 mph.
Titus Christensen flew out of Chicago on April 29, 1921 at
7:05am with the eastbound mail. The weather got worse as he
approached Cleveland. He landed 12 miles southwest of Sandusky,
Ohio in order to call for a weather report. The field at Cleveland
reported a 400' ceiling and three quarter mile visibility.
Christensen decided he could make it and took off, following
the Cuyahoga River. He came down too low looking for bearings
and was right above the river. He was too low to get his airplane
out. There were tall buildings on each bank and high bridges
ahead and behind. He threw his de Havilland into a tight circle,
trying to clear it all, but crashed into railroad tracks 20
feet from the river. Christensen was burned to death in the
crash. A local newspaper noted Christensen could have crashed
his airplane in the crowded streets of Cleveland, but chose
instead to stay over the river.
The Washington Post
ran the following story on the crash.
SHUNS STREET LANDING;
BURNS IN MAIL airplane
Pilot Avoids Risk of Killing People – Drops on Railroad
Tracks in Cleveland.
CLEVELAND, April 29.—Rather than attempt a landing
in a street and thus endanger the lives of many persons,
J. T. Christensen of Chicago, air mail pilot, sacrificed
his life today when he was forced to seek a landing in downtown
Cleveland because of engine trouble.
Unable to see because of a heavy fog, the
pilot fell 200 feet to the Erie Railroad tracks at Scranton
and University Roads and was buried beneath the wreckage
of his machine. He was burned to death when the gasoline
tank exploded, setting fire to the debris.
Christensen was making his first trip on the
Chicago-Cleveland route, having left Chicago this morning.
He was recently transferred to that division from the Cleveland-New
York route. He held three speed records.