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He wanted to be Lindbergh of the Pacific

Ernest L Smith dreamt of becoming the ‘Lindbergh of the Pacific.’ But after the Army’s Maitland and Hegenberger reached Hawai‘i before him, he settled on becoming the first civilian to do so; Emory Bronte was his navigator. “The crowd of 10,000 that had assembled (and) watched intently ….” They took off from Oakland, California, in a single-engine Travelair on July 14, 1927. Aside from radio earphone problems, their 25-hour trip went well ….”

Then, came the sounds of their only engine sputtering and coughing; they were running out of fuel and calculated that only 1-hour’s fuel remained, but 4-hours of flying time to O‘ahu. They redirected to Molokai’s southern coast, headed for the softest looking clump of trees he could find and crashed in some kiawe. Pilot and navigator were shaken but unhurt except for scratches from the tree thorns. It was 8:47 am, HST, July 15, 1927. There was no prize money to be collected, the plane was unusable.

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Dole Derby

James Dole established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901 and is ‘‘usually considered to have produced the first commercial pack of 1,893 cases of canned pineapple in 1903.” In April 1927, the Hawaiian Pineapple Co began a national advertising campaign, independent of the Association of Hawaiian Pineapple Canners. Dole offered $25,000 to the first flyer to cross from the North American continent to Honolulu, Hawai‘i, in a nonstop flight (second place would receive $10,000.)

“It was August 16th, 1927, only 86 days since Lindbergh had single-handedly fired the world’s imagination with his stunning solo flight from New York to Paris” … four airplanes were in the race, Aloha, Golden Eagle, Miss Doran and Woolaroc … later, only two landed in Hawai‘i (Woolaroc (the first finisher that landed August 17, 1927 at Wheeler Field after a flight of 26 hours, 17 minutes and 33 seconds) and Aloha.)

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