Sunday, October 02, 2011
East Wenatchee, Wash.— The Wright brothers. Charles Lindbergh. Amelia Earhart. Howard Hughes.
You don't have to be interested in aviation to recognize the names of famous, risk-taking pilots from the early days of flight.
But mention Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon, and most folks stare blankly as they utter, "Who?"
Even in the Wenatchee Valley, east of the Cascades in central Washington, schoolchildren don't know the names, although this is where history was made on Oct. 5, 1931, when the two pilots, in a plane named Miss Veedol (after a brand of motor oil), belly-flopped onto a muddy airstrip, becoming the first people to fly nonstop across the Pacific.
The two, who had taken off 41 hours earlier from Japan, flew much farther than "Lucky Lindy" had four years earlier, when his Spirit of St. Louis crossed the Atlantic. Unlike Lindbergh, Pangborn and Herndon didn't make it into most history books — or even the movies.