Finally, in February 1921, Congress is scheduled to vote on the appropriation of our funds. Otto Praeger has planned an aggressive move to save the Air Mail. On the 22nd of the month, he is launching the first transcontinental day and night flight to be completed, we hope, in less than 33 hours. It is not a coincidence that the flight will take place the same week Congress votes.
There has been support for the effort nationwide. People who live along the route have agreed to light bonfires to guide the pilots. No one has flown at night yet, so neither pilots or planes are prepared for the challenges ahead. To top it off, it's February, the dead of winter and the weather won't be an asset. However, it is our last hope to impress Congress and save the Air Mail.
Two planes are tasked to takeoff from New York. Another two are set to go from San Francisco. All of the flights takeoff okay and make quick and easy transitions at planned pit stops. Unfortunately, the westbound planes are grounded by bad weather, one in Omaha and the other almost all the way across the nation, not far from Bellefonte. The eastbound flights encounter trouble as well. One plane crashes just outside of Elko and pilot William Lewis is killed. He was to be wed in the following month of March.
The last plane flying is piloted by Jack Knight.
Jack Knight Saves the Air Mail