First Around the World — First Flight Commemorative Half Dollar Coin

Today, the First Flight Commemorative Half Dollar Coin remembers when the army pilots officially ended the first around the world flight on September 28, 1924.

Santa Monica was the unofficial start and end of the circumnavigation journey with Sand Point, Washington being the official location.

On April 6, 1924, four planes left Sand Point for Alaska and the rest of their adventure.

On September 28, 1924, three planes landed at Sand Point to end their 175 days and 27,553 miles around the world tour.

The Chicago with Lieutenant Lowell Smith and 1st Lieutenant Leslie Arnold led the group. The New Orleans with Lieutenant Erik Nelson and Lieutenant Jack Harding and the  Boston II with Lieutenant Leigh Wade and Staff Sergeant Henry Ogden were the other two airplanes and their aviators.

Only the Chicago and the New Orleans went the full journey. The Boston had to be replaced by the Boston II such that its aviators could finish the circle.

From the Lewiston Daily Sun, the following article celebrated their official completion of the first aerial around the world trip.


Around the World Fliers Complete Their Trip with Thousands Cheering Them

Birdmen Land at Seattle, Washington, Five Months and Two Days After Hop-Off — Have Touched 21 Foreign Countries and 25 States and One Territory — Planes Consumed 21,060 Gallons of Gasoline

Seattle, Wash. Sept. 28—

The American army round the world fliers completed the circuit of the globe this afternoon, landing at Sand Point Field at 1:36 p.m. Pacific time.

The weather here was warm, approaching sultriness. Sirens shrieked as the planes flew over the city. Thousands of voices roared welcome at the field. Among the first to greet the fliers was Major Martin.

Lieut. Smith was the first to land. He was followed by Lieut. Wade, then Lieut. Nelson. The commander landed at 1:36, the others at 1:37:50, and 1:38:35 respectively. Flying conditions were ideal, as the aviators made their last lap.

Lieut. Leslie Arnold was hugged and kissed by his mother, Mrs. Cora Arnold, and his sister, Mrs. Frances Cole, of Spokane, Wash., who had not seen him since he started onthe flight that made history in aviation circles, when he alighted.

The fliers left Eugene, Ore., at 10:02 a.m. on their last leg. The three world fliers landed at Vancouver Barracks, Washington, a few minutes after leaving Portland to make adjustments to Lieut. Wade’s engine. The fliers left Vancouver at 11:57 a.m.

The airplanes, on landing, taxied in a large circle to the reviewing stand with the Chicago at the left, Boston II, in the center, and the New Orleans at the right. The band in the meantime continued playing during the taxiing.

Ropes were strung around the famous machines and the reception committee gathered to greet the fliers. Lieut. Smith stepped from the cockpit of his machine and made a short address to the assembled committee. The crowd that gathered around the roped off airplanes, was so great that the reception at the landing field was curtailed to merely shaking of hands of the fliers and expressions from the reception committee of “glad you’re here.”

Each of the fliers received at the field a large bouquet of dahlias, which they took with them to a private luncheon aboard a yacht.

A huge “Welcome” sign, with letters 20 feet high, greeted the aviators as they circled over Sand Point. As the planes flew over Seattle, whistles and automobile horns sent up shrieking greetings. On the field hundreds of automobiles and cheers from the thousands of spectators contributed to the noisy return.

Nine airplanes from Sand Point under the command of Major D. C. Emmons, commander of Crissy Field, San Francisco, left shortly before the fliers were expected to escort them to the field.

The world circlers were accompanied on their flight from Eugene, Ore., by Lieuts. A. J. Brookhurst and George W. Goddard who made a photographic record of the flight across the country, and Lieut. Burdette Wright, and Sergt. J. F. Kennedy.

Lieut. Wright acted as advanced officer of the flight and his was the first of accompanying airplanes to arrive. He made a graceful landing at 12:25 p.m.

Two minutes after they stepped from their planes at Sand Point today each of the six army aviators completing their world flight was handed the following telegram from President Calvin Coolidge:

“On final completion of your flight, I desire again to offer my congratulations and express to you the thanks of your country.

“Under the law I do not understand that I have authority suitably to reward you by promotion and other appropriate action.

“I wish, however, to announce to you that on the convening of Congress I shall recommend that such authority be granted in order that your distinguished services may have a practical recognition from your country.”

Platinum and gold rings containing bloodstones were presented to each of the aviators.


The First Flight Commemorative Half Dollar Coin shows with an image of the Chicago, circa 1924, on its around the world journey.

First Flight Commemorative Half Dollar Coin