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The Army Air Forces Pan American Goodwill Flight of 1926-1927 Collection

Identifier: H011-06

Scope and Content

This collection contains reports, diaries, flight summaries, articles, and other materials related to The Army Air Forces Pan American Goodwill Flight, 1926-1927. The Army Air Forces Pan American Goodwill Flight, 1926-1927 Collection is housed in two boxes of varying sizes, totaling 0.6 linear ft.

The collection arrived in good condition and the archivist identified two series, with the first series being the Research and General Information Series. Materials are correspondence with NARA and the Library of Congress, photocopies of background reports on the Army Air Forces Pan American Goodwill Flight, and a copy of a National Geographic Magazine article documenting the flight.

The second series is the Participants Series, which includes photocopies of diaries, flight reports, and material describing the activities of eight of the ten pilots (Lieutenant J.W. Benton and Captain C.F. Woolsey, the two pilots killed in the crash of the Detroit, are not represented in these materials).


  • Creation: 1925 - 1971
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1926 - 1927


Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Historical Sketch

In 1926, the administration of United States President Calvin Coolidge sought ideas for ways to build relationships between itself and the countries of Central and South America. Chief of the Army Air Forces, Major General Mason proposed a goodwill visit by Army Air Force pilots to twenty-three countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America. The State and War Departments approved this idea, and planning began for the flight to start in the fall of 1926. The route that was selected covered over 23,000 miles vising the capitals of every country in Latin and Central America, save Lima, Peru’s capital, which was at too high an altitude for the aircraft to reach. It also visited the Caribbean islands of Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guadeloupe.

The aircraft selected for the flight was the Loening OA-1 Amphibian. The OA-1 was a two seat, bi-wing, floatplane in service with the United States Army and Navy. The five planes were named after five American cities: The New York piloted by the Flight’s overall commander Major Herbert A. Dargue and Lieutenant Ennis Whitehead; The San Antonio piloted by Captain Arthur McDaniel and Lieutenant Charles Robinson; The San Francisco piloted by Captain Ira C. Eaker and Lieutenant Muir Fairchild; The Detroit piloted by Captain Clinton Woolsey and Lieutenant John Benton; and The St. Louis piloted by Lieutenant Bernard Thompson and Lieutenant Leonard Weddington. The five aircraft and ten pilots departed Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, on December 21, 1926.

The flight was marred by a tragic accident that cost the life of two of the pilots. En-route to Buenos Aires, on the Argentine leg of the flight, The New York and The Detroit collided in mid-air. Dargue and Whitehead were able to parachute from the stricken The New York, and landed safely. Benton and Woolsey were unable to extricate themselves from their aircraft, and were killed on impact with the ground. The remaining eight members of the expedition arrived at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C. on May 2, 1927, the entire flight having taken 133 days. President Coolidge personally greeted the men, and presented them with the Distinguished Flying Cross, an award, which had only just been authorized in July of the previous year. The group also received the Mackay Trophy, an award presented by the American War Department to the most meritorious flight of the year.

Major Dargue went on to recount the exploits of the flight in an article for National Geographic Magazine, published in 1927. Other members of the expedition went on to long careers with the Air Forces, with Fairchild, Eaker, and Whitehead reaching the rank of General during World War II. Eaker and Fairchild’s plane, The San Francisco was the only aircraft to complete every stage of the flight, and is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.


Dargue, Herbert A. 1927. "How Latin America Looks from the Air." "National Geographic," 52 (July-Dec), 451-502.
Frisbee, John L. 1985. "Valor: The Greatest Gift." "Air Force Magizine," 68 (9), 226.
Parton, John. 1986. "Eaker's Pan American Mission." "Air Force Magazine," 69 (9), 179-187.


2.5 Linear Feet (One manuscript box and one non-standard box (24x19x2.5).)


This collection covers the Pan American Goodwill Flight through Latin America from 1926 through 1927.

Series Description

The Army Air Forces Pan American Goodwill Flight of 1926-1927 Collection is arranged in two series:

Series I. Research and General Information 0.16 linear ft. (five folders), 1926-1971.

Arranged topically.

Series II. Participants 0.5 linear ft. (one half-size manuscript box and seven folders), 1926-1927.

Arranged alphabetically by last name.

Provenance Statement

The Army Air Forces Pan American Goodwill Flight, 1926-1927 Collection was donated to the History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by the Edmon Low Library at the Oklahoma State University on 2006-01-17.

Existence and Location of Originals

This collection contains photocopies of material from the United States National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), as well as the Library of Congress.

Additional Sources

Additional information can be found in the History of Aviation Archives in the following collections:

The Manufacturers Files regarding the Loening OA-1 Amphibian. Biographies of General Ira C. Eaker and Muir S. Fairchild are contained in the Aviation Personalities Biographies Collection.

The History of Aviation Collection's Monograph and Serial holdings also contain a number of volumes about the Army Air Forces, American Military Aviation in the 1920s, and aviation in Latin America. Please, consult the Eugene McDermott Library's online catalog for titles and locations.

Guide to The Army Air Forces Pan American Goodwill Flight of 1926-1927 Collection
Thomas J. Allen, PHD
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2019-06-18.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-06-18: 1st revision was a reprocessing of the collection and an update of the finding aid by Patrizia Nava, CA.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US