Carl Backman


Carl Backman's 1939 flight was the first of three such unauthorized privatetransatlantic attempts that year. These three flights were to claim four victims, none of pilots were ever found.

Backman, 25 a pilot of Swedish extraction took off from Gander airport on May 15, 1939. Backman'sflight began in St. Louis, Mo. He stopped in Bangor, Maine before heading off to Gander, Newfoundland. His destinationwas Stockholm, Sweden. Since such flights from US territory were illegal, Newfoundland was convenient place tostart his flight since it was out of reach of the FAA and closer to Sweden via the Great Circle Route. His planewas a 90 hp Monocoupe,with a fuel capacity that was expanded to 160 gallons. Backman had no radio and his foodsupply consisted of a few sandwiches and a thermos of tea.

He told Gander Airport officials that he was involved in a race with two other airplanes to flyStockholm.. This was a fabricated story to give his flight legitimacy. Although it was believed, they urged himnot to proceed. He did not heed their warnings and left for Europe in his tiny airplane. Airport officials werenot surprised when he was never seen again, they regarded the flight as entirely suicidal.

Picture of the Plane in Gander

Another Picture of the Plane in Gander



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