Flier Hops Off for Europe in a 'Baby' Plane; Cost of Fuel on Research Flight is Put at $30


-May 28- Europe in a light plane research flight, Thomas H. Smith a 27 [sic]-year old Los Angeles flier, took off from this Maine Summer resort beach at 4:47 A.M. today in a 670 [sic] pound Aeronca plane, powered only with a 65-horsepower engine.

He calculated that his 160 gallons of gasoline would carry him 3600 miles in from 32-40 hours, barring adverse weather.

With the first light of dawn breaking over the tide-hardened sands, Smith lifted his tiny monoplane, the Baby Clipper into the Atlantic mists while flares and flashlights of news photographers lighted his path and a group of fifty well-wishers cheered him on.

"Europe is a close as I can tell you," Smith said of his destination. Associates said that he would point his silver winged craft for Slyne Head, Ireland, 2800 miles away. He hoped that his plane's normal cruising speed of 100 [sic] miles an hour would bring him over Europe about noon tomorrow.

The solo flight, Smith said was to demonstrate the practicality of light planes for long-distance flights. Members of Smith's party estimated the cost of gasoline and oil for the ocean jaunt at less than $30.

Smith's plotted course took him up the Maine coast to Newfoundland, whence he would turn into the Great Circle route traversed by numerous other airman. He carried no radio, but the narrow confines of his cabin were crowded by navigation and technical instruments. He was unreported late tonight.

A flier of nine years experience , Smith formerly lived in Clarksburg, W. Va., and had been a pilot for the Detroit-St. Louis-Marquette line.

Smith stowed away in his tiny cockpit four sandwiches, a couple of chocolate bars and two thermos bottles, one containing water and another a soft drink for refreshment. In his emergency kit he had first-aid materials, a knife, a revolver and a roll of mosquito netting- the latter in case he was forced down in a coast wilderness.

He carried a screw driver and a wrench as tools.

Smiths route followed the course most recently attempted by Carl Bachman, Swedish airman, who has been unreported since his take-off on a flight to Sweden.

"Flier Hops Off for Europe in a 'Baby' Plane; Cost of Fuel on Research Flight is Put at $30," New York Times, (May 29, 1939), p.1.

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