Sunday 6 October 2013

Visitors - The U.S. Connection

  Van Lear Black (1875-1930) was a Baltimore banker and businessman turned civil aviation pioneer.
  In 1927, Black undertook a plane journey around the world to prove the viability of civil air flight, with a Fokker plane chartered from the Royal Dutch Airline, K.L.M. His crew consisted of K.L.M. staff: chief pilot G.J. Geysendorffer, copilot J.B. Sholte, and mechanic Peter Bunk, as well as Black's personal secretary, J. Leo Bayline. Additional trips were made over several years time, some combining air and ship travel. In February 1930, Black commissioned a Fokker VIIb trimotor aircraft G-AADZ "The Maryland Free State" to fly from London to Tokyo to Java. He created his own company for the flight, VLB ltd. The flight included stops in Venice, Italy, and Athens, Greece, landing in Tachikawa, Tokyo (photo above) on 7 April 1930. The aircraft was disassembled for the Pacific voyage to San Francisco, then reassembled for the final flight to Baltimore on 18 May, a 16,000-mile (26,000 km) trip.
  Traveling a total of 200,000 miles in five years, Black's trips were the first intercontinental flights of such length for purely civilian purposes.
  Black died suddenly in 1930, apparently falling from the afterdeck of his yacht Sabala in rough water enroute to Baltimore following an excursion to New York.

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