After the millions of casualties of World War 1, another war seemed unthinkable. America's priorities became a return to peace and prosperity. By the early 1920s, budget cuts had decimated the military. President Coolidge felt aviation had little practical value and suggested that the 232 Army airmen, left from a wartime peak of 20,000, could take turns flying the few obsolete aircraft that remained intact.
General Billy Mitchell believed that only a successful world flight could save the U.S. Air Service from destructions by the politicians. After years of planning, he began an unauthorized public campaign for support of the flight as elections approached. Coolidge and Secretary of War Weeks reluctantly bowed to public pressure and authorized the flight – but exiled Mitchell to the Far East.
Most of the world called Mitchell brilliant, courageous, resourceful, and prophetic. The U.S. President called him arrogant, divisive, insubordinate – and unstoppable. His enemies broke him in rank, exiled him, court-martialled him, tried to jail him, commit him to an asylum and even kill him, but they couldn't silence his outspoken criticism of the War Department and its "treasonable administration."
His genius surfaced early; youngest college student, youngest Army officer,
youngest General Staff appointee, youngest recipient of France's Croix de Guerre since Napoleon. In his twenties he triumphed over insurgents in the Philippines and connected the interior of Alaska with the coastline. In his thirties he became the first American to come under fire in WW1, then led the Allies to an unlikely victory at the head of the world's largest air armada –
returning home the most decorated American war hero. In his forties Mitchell built the world's largest bombs and sunk "unsinkable" battleships from the air for the first time. He set numerous aviation records, and warned of the coming war with Japan – accurately predicting the attack on Pearl Harbor and the battles of the Pacific, 17 years in advance!
Starting from the primitive kites of Langley and the Wright Brothers, this is the
incredible, adventure-filled, little-known story of the outspoken Billy Mitchell and
the key role he played in U.S. Aviation culminating in his largely uncredited and unheralded flight around the world in 1924 – three years before Lindbergh flew to Paris.
Douglas Aviation, newly formed in the back of a barber shop with $600 of borrowed capital, built the lumbering but strong open cockpit Biplanes, the "World Cruisers" for the flight. Limited funds meant that they would be powered by obsolete, unreliable, war surplus Liberty engines left from the previous decade.
Few countries then had airplanes; airfields and supply depots were virtually non-existent. The Pacific and North Atlantic oceans had never been crossed by air. To extend the Cruisers range, radios, rafts, parachutes, life jackets and even survival rations were left behind. In the press, the fliers were given little hope of surviving the hazardous ordeal. Strap yourself into the cockpit and ride along with these young American airmen as they attempt to do the impossible, to complete their flight – and change the course of history for the balance of the Twentieth Century.
- File Size: 5207 KB
- Print Length: 498 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: U.S. Press (April 22, 2011)
- Publication Date: April 22, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004XR4I86
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- X-Ray: Not Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled