A Flight around the world
Compiled by Crystal Barlow from Newspaper articles
After long preparation, four planes flew north from Santa Monica, California on March 17, 1924 to Seattle, Washington. They were christened the Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans and the Boston. Major Frederick L. Martin was the Flight Commander of the mission to fly around the world along with his mechanic Sergeant Alva Harvey and their plane was the Seattle. Lt Lowell H. Smith was the pilot of the Chicago along with his mechanic Lt. Leslie P. Arnold. The Boston was piloted by lst Lt. Leigh Wade and the mechanic was St. Henry H. Odgen. First Lt. Eric H. Nelson and his mechanic 2nd Lt. John Harding, Jr. were in the New Orleans. Unfortunately, two of the original four planes would never realize their goal of circumnavigating the globe. The Seattle hit a mountain peak in Alaska and the Boston crew was forced to crash land in the North Atlantic, with the plane eventually being replaced by the Boston II and the crew resuming its venture in a matter of days.
The four planes and eight crew members set out from Seattle, Washington on the real start of their journey the date being 6 April 1924. Almost immediately Major Martin, piloting the lead plane fell behind. Engine trouble forced him down and the other world cruisers continued on. After an engine replacement Martin and his mechanic attempted to catch up with the others who were waiting at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Their course took them through the Aleutian Islands. On 30 April the Seattle, with Flight Commander Major Frederick L. Martin and his mechanic, Sergeant Alva Harvey aboard left Chignik Alaska at 11:10 a. m. for Dutch Harbor, an Alaskan Island. Residents at the small cannery station at Dutch Harbor reported that weather conditions for the past five days were the worst ever known at this time of the year. The North Pacific ocean had been lashed by terrific gales, the wind frequently reaching a velocity of 100 miles per hour. The area was also suffering from snow blown from the mountainsides and nearby peaks. The residents of this small community believed that it was a mistake attempting the 400 mile flight from Chignik to Dutch Harbor during the gale.
With Martin and Harvey missing, the other three planes continued their round- the world flight with Lieutenant Lowell Smith of the Chicago now in command. The voyage continued down the Kurile Islands to Japan. Then on to China, Siam, Burma, India, Persia, Turkey, Austria, France, England, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador and Nova Scotia were way-stations on their route to Boston. Then came the land flight by way of New York and finally arriving back at Seattle on 28 September 1924. The total elapsed time was five months and twenty two days, the distance covered was 27,534 miles and the actual flying time in the air was 351 hours and 11 minutes.
The search and rescue for Martin and Harvey was covered by the Associated Press and other news media daily.
After more than 36 hours no report has been received from Chignik,Alaska regarding the fate of Major Frederick L. Martin and his mechanic, Sergeant Alva Harvey who left Chignik at 11:10a.m. for Dutch Harbor.
May 1, 1924
The coast guard cutter, Algonquin, is directing the search. Vessels that had come north to the annual Alaska Salmon pack were asked to take up the search also.
May 2, 1924
The search for Martin and Harvey has turned to searching the Aleutian range of mountains and the surrounding islands.
May 3, 1924
A party with dog teams will go today from Shiknik, Alaska to the north side of the Alaska peninsula. As a result of information from natives scattered along the barren Alaskan peninsula they saw Major Martin headed northwestward in the direction of Chignik lakes and the Baring sea. The three other planes were instructed to continue on with their flights.
May 3, 1924
The prayers of his mother and sister are aiding Major Frederick L. Martin in his battle for life in the icy, unknown wastes of Alaska. His sister, Mrs. Irwin Jackson of 116 North 17th Street in Richmond and his mother Mrs. Nancy Martin is at present with her sisters, Mrs. Florence Nutty of Alquina, Indiana. The Major’s Mother whose home is in Mobridge, S. D. had been visiting with Mrs. Jackson but was called to the Nutty home because of the death of the Mrs. Nutty’s husband.
May 4, 1924
An all-out search is on going for Martin and Harvey.
May 5, 1924
Cordova, Alaska: An entirely new aspect was today given to the hunt for Major Frederick L. Martin, whose United States army air squadron has gone on without him in a flight around the world. A report said that two men at Port Moller, which is on the opposite side of the Peninsula from Chignik and 100 miles east of Chignik had noticed something circling in the sky above some hills in the Aleutian range yesterday evening. The men thought that they saw “between the wings” an airplane although they estimated it to be 10 or 15 miles away.
May 12, 1924
San Diego CA: A slip of yellow paper which will be kept through the years to come as a thing of incalculable value is in the possession of a very happy woman in San Diego today. It is a telegram bringing Mrs. Frederick L. Martin the first direct message from her husband. Her husband had been missing since April 30th in the frozen north.
The message: Hello Dearest: Safe at Port Moller 6 p. m. today. Crashed against mountain in fog 30th. Neither hurt. Survived next ten days. Good health. Dry your tears. Fred
Mrs. Martin had first received news that her husband was found about 9 a.m. when radio messages related Major Martin and his mechanic were safe. His wife said it had been a wonderful Sunday. In Connersville, Mrs.Nancy Martin, his Mother, declared she was the happiest mother in the world on this Mother’s Day.
May 12, 1924
Cordova, Alaska: Major Martin and Sergeant Harvey are alive and well after undergoing severe hardships during the 10 days they were missing. The aviators were resting in the quarters of the Pacific-American fisheries company at Port Moller and receiving the best of care. They had made their way over frozen wastes with the greatest difficulty subsisting on the condensed rations they carried. The two finally reached a trapper’s cabin at the most southerly point of Port Moller Bay. Exhausted by their long tramp, they remained at this cabin three days recovering their strength then walking along the beach to Port Moller and early today flashed the first message of their safety to the world after being reported missing 10 days.
May 12, 1924
Major Frederick L. Martin and his mechanic and his mechanic Staff Sergeant Alva L. Harvey will be ordered to Washington direct form Port Moller, Alaska. The two will be assigned to duty in the army air service headquarters temporarily but their names will be kept on the list of found the world flyers in compliment to the men, and in recognition of the hard-ships they have endured in valiantly attempting to lead the squadron in the globe encircling flight.
May 30, 1924
Chicago: A great welcome was tendered Major Frederick Martin here on his return from Alaska where his command of the around the world army flight was interrupted by misfortune. Throngs greeted Martin and Sergeant Alva Harvey, his mechanic on their arrival today.
Met by military, naval men and civilians and accompanied for 100 miles by airplane from Chanute field, Illinois, which he formerly commanded, Major Martin and Sergeant Harvey received the acclaim given heroes. All along the route from St. Paul, hundreds of people turned out at towns and villages and waved flags and cheered as the aviator’s train sped by. Surrounded by a reception committee from the Adventurers club which is entertaining them, the visitors were escorted by motorcycle policemen and citizens to a hotel for a public reception.
Martin told of the crash in Alaska. “When we crashed 1200 feet up on the side of a mountain and Harvey and I crawled out from our wrecked ship and sat down in several feet of snow, I sort of felt that there was a something, a power; that takes care of all of us. A kind of providence was watching over us because the nose of the ship hit just a few feet above the straight side of a cliff and the plane went skidding up the gentle slope for about 150 feet. If we had hit 10 feet lower we would have dropped down into a canyon, 1200 feet below.”
July 6, 1924
Major Frederick L. Martin was a visitor in Richmond, Indiana last night. He landed at Berry field on Chester pike north of the city and attending the funeral of his mother, Mrs. Nancy Martin in Connersville. He then spent the night at the home of his sister Mrs. Irwin Jackson.
July 7, 1924
Before leaving Indiana Major Martin flew to Liberty and circled over the territory he knew as a boy. He saw the home where he was born and where he lived as a child and viewed from aloft the other landmarks which he had never before seen from the air. This was the first time that the officer had ever flown over his home town. And as his De Haviland plane thundered over the Union County seat citizens who saw him little thought that at the controls sat one of their own “boys” who since leaving Liberty had been through hardships such as few men experience and who had the distinct honor of commanding a little group of epoch making aviators on a world trail blazing expedition for the United States.
Upon returning to Chanute Field Major Martin will remain only a day or so before going on leave until October 1. He will go first to Bellingham, Washington where his wife and son are visiting Mrs. Martin’s sister. Later he will go to Langley Field Virginia where he will attend a tactical school. “You know there is always something new to learn in this business,” he said.