Photos from surveying flights to the Orient in 1931

Photos taken in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada 1931

The following pictures were taken in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada by Kornelious van Wyk (know as Van) when the Lindbergh's stopped to refuel on their way to China. Van was a friend of Mrs. Dina (van Nes) Brecknell of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada who donated the scanned images.

Click on a thumbnail below to open a larger image.

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Photos taken in Nome, Alaska 1931

The following pictures were sent to the Web site by Jim Davenport of Camp Verde, AZ.

Photos taken in China-October 1931

The Sirius was damaged while being hoisted by the British carrier Hermes

Flight to the Orient Overview

The survey flight to the Orient departed July 27, 1931, from Long Island, New York. Their itinerary through Canada included Ottawa, Moose Factory and Churchill on Hudson Bay, and Baker Lake in the Northwest Territories (Anne was the first white woman to set foot there). In Ottawa, her husband proudly proclaimed his wife was "crew" in response to a local aviator's statement that he wouldn't want his own wife as a passenger through the uncharted no man's land of the Canadian tundra.

After a 12-hour night flight north from Baker Lake, through a never darkening sky in the land of the midnight sun, they arrived on the fifth of August at Aklavik on the Mackenzie River delta. Their next stop was Point Barrow, the northernmost tip of Alaska, at the Arctic Ocean. It was isolated, bleak country, sparsely inhabited by Eskimos, the native people now known as Inuit, and small settlements of white missionaries and trappers who waited a full year between supply boats to replenish supplies.

They headed south to Nome in darkening skies, away from the Arctic sunlight. Low on fuel, with fog-shrouded mountains ahead, they landed near Shishmaref Inlet. Anne hurriedly reeled in the antenna after sending a frantic message to the waiting Nome natives, moments before the plane landed in shallow water.

After crossing the Bering Sea on August 14, they arrived in Siberia at Karaginski Island, Kamchatka, before flying on to Petropavlovsk. Even with language barriers among the Russians, Anne's warm nature established quick friendships and transcended cultural barriers. Her gentle demeanor endeared her to many of the people they encountered worldwide.

Their next stop was Ketoi Island, where Charles landed skillfully in a sea of fog, while Anne battled temporary fright through the blind descent. After fouled spark plugs prevented an engine start there, the plane drifted perilously close to the rocks when the anchor rope broke. They were rescued by a Japanese boat, the Shinshiru Maru, and towed to Buroton Bay.

On August 22, repairs completed, they flew on towards Tokyo, but battling fog again, landed near Kunashiri Island. After a brief stop at Nemuro, the Sirius landed at Tokyo on August 26. From Fukuoka, they flew across the Yellow Sea into Nanking, China, site of severe flooding of the Yangtzee River, now known as the Chang. Because the Sirius had the longest fuel range of any plane in the area, it was called into action to assess the vast flood damage.

But their great surveying flight to the Orient was unexpectedly cut short. In October, at Hankow, the Sirius was damaged while being hoisted by the British carrier Hermes. The Lindberghs sailed to Shanghai, hoping to have the plane repaired in China, but they headed home by boat after hearing news of Dwight Morrow's sudden death. The plane was shipped to the Lockheed factory in California for repairs. In North to the Orient (published in 1935), Anne wrote that these flights would not have been possible a few years earlier with the aviation technology available then. A few years later, airplanes would be more commonplace. The Lindbergh's were truly opening the windows of flight for the average citizen, many of whom followed the progress of the flight path with rapt attention.

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