Noting the obvious failures of the flights to Chicago, Lipsner and Praeger decided to attempt to redeem the attempt by having a second round of flights back to New York. This time, however, the Airmail Service would have a set of advantages. First and foremost, the pilots would no longer be fighting the wind, as the air currents tend to move west to east in North America.
Miller’s trip back went fairly well, all things considered. It was decided that Miller, having arrived in Chicago first would also leave first. As a result he was scheduled to leave on September 9th, 1918, a full day ahead of Gardner, due to more problems with Gardner’s plane. Weather conditions were reportedly favorable for the flight. Miller took off at 6:00 AM.
En route, Miller was so confident in the conditions and equipment that he actually gave the first checkpoint, Bryan, Ohio, a miss; flying over it and tossing the mail destined for the town out of the cockpit, rather than landing and refueling. Miller landed in Cleveland at 9:40 that morning. In Cleveland he had his radiator repaired and his plane refueled. He left Cleveland for Lock Haven at 2:00 in the afternoon, arriving at Lock Haven at 5:00.
Much to Miller’s dismay, when he checked in with Lipsner, he was ordered to remain in Lock Haven for the night. Miller obliged, and at Lock Haven he remained. Miller departed Lock Haven at 9:00 on the morning of the 17th, and arrived at Belmont Park, New York at 11:30 after an uneventful flight.
Gardner, however, had a far more interesting day on the 17th. He departed Chicago with Radel at 6:30 in the morning, in the midst of a driving rainstorm. They flew out of the rainstorm and to Bryan in approximately two and a half hours, landing at 9:00. They refueled in Bryan and pressed on, landing in Cleveland at 11:40 AM. They stayed in Cleveland for two hours and left at 1:40 PM. They landed in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania at 4:45.
They stayed in Lock Haven for just over an hour. Gardner and Radel left Lock Haven at 5:51… dangerously close to nightfall. Gardner was determined. They flew as it grew darker and darker, gradually approaching Belmont Park. However, it was too dark to see by the time Gardner and Radel reached New York City. Gardner circled the city for two hours trying to find a safe landing. Eventually they made a forced landing in outside Hicksville, near Long Island. Neither pilot was seriously injured, however, the aircraft was destroyed.
The Airmail Service trumpeted Gardner’s flight as a brilliant success and as a step forward, unequaled since the dawn of flight, despite the fact that the plane was destroyed and Gardner had not reached his final destination of Belmont Park.