The book was written to tell the story of Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon, Jr. who were the first to fly across the Pacific, nonstop, in 1931—an achievement that hadn’t been duplicated until after World War II. In those days, airplanes were not built to fly that far but with the combined attributes of flying skill, guts, airplane stunt experience, aeronautical smarts and luck, they made it. They departed Sabishiro Beach near Misawa, Japan with a system (unknown to the Japanese) that would eject their landing gear over the ocean at the appropriate time. This required a belly landing, which they did on a dirt strip carved out of the sagebrush near Wenatchee, Washington. The trip was one thrill after another.
Charles Lindbergh vs Clyde Pangborn
Most people are familiar with Charles Lindbergh's famous transatlantic flight but most have never heard of Clyde Pangborn. Pangborn’s transpacific flight occurred only four years after Lindbergh’s but covered half again as much distance.
Many sources exist that contain information on the brave deeds accomplished by these guys. There seems to be a great deal of contradiction between the sources but all have the same basic message. Why is it that such an incredible feat was never written in the history books??
This book is based on history but some of it had to be fiction. The fiction part was used in an attempt to piece together the sketchy historical information that existed about the flight. Key things missing include the emotional stresses that must have existed within the mothers and between the two flyers who constantly faced life-threatening dilemmas as they plied around the globe. Also there must be a way to describe the discuss Clyde must have felt when he suddenly realized that his partner, his key backup, his right-hand man was not the flyer he hoped he would be. As a result, the two of them were nearly killed on many occasions. This book attempts to piece that all together. Some names have been changed, some people have been added and events contrived to explain how some of these mysteries might have happened. They may be wrong, but it makes for a good, exciting story much as the actual event must have been if the facts were known. The bottom line, Clyde Pangborn should be recognized as a hero in the history book of aviation. He apparently was by some as he was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery, but his name is still unknown by most.