American military aviation reached a low point after World War I, lagging behind its European counterparts and facing a peacetime battle for survival. To raise the public profile of aviation, military leaders encouraged their pilots to enter air shows and vie for speed, endurance, and altitude records. As a result, U.S. Army airmen daringly accomplished the first flight around the world in 1924, three years before Charles Lindbergh's famous solo flight.
In Around the World in 175 Days, Carroll V. Glines recounts this adventure from the golden age of aviation. After two years of planning, four Douglas World Cruisers, each carrying a pilot and a mechanic, took off from Seattle in April 1924, flying west to circle the globe; one additional plane was held in reserve. Four of the men and two of the planes completed the flight in September 1924 and, miraculously, all eight men survived, even though one plane had crashed in the Alaskan mountains and another had ditched in the Atlantic. The airmen had triumphed over the weather extremes of Arctic Alaska and the desert Middle East, numerous primitive landing sites in rough terrain, and maintenance and supply problems that persisted despite the coordinated efforts of land- and sea-based support personnel from the Army Air Service, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard.
Glines captures the drama of the journey, from the careful behind-the-scenes planning through the airmen's harrowing in-flight experiences to the mission's culmination in triumph. The success charted the future of the Army Air Service's worldwide aircraft deployment and paved the way for long-distance commercial air travel.