Atlantic Flight (August 25, 1937)

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Atlantic Flight
 

Released on August 25, 1937: An airplane crime drama featuring flight pioneers Dick Merrill and Jack Lambie, who were the first to fly across the Atlantic non-stop and return non-stop a day later.

Produced by William Berke

Directed by William Nigh

The Actors: Dick Merrill (Dick Bennett), Jack Lambie (Jack Carter), Paula Stone (Gail Strong), Milburn Stone (Henry Wadsworth 'Pokey' Schultz), Weldon Heyburn (Bill Edwards), Ivan Lebedeff (Baron Hayygard), Lyle Moraine (Navy Lieutenant Lyle), George Cleveland (old man in diner), Lester Dorr (hospital attendant), Earl Dwire (Doctor Harvey), Harry Hayden (news photographer), I. Stanford Jolley (aviation fuel pumper), Wilbur Mack (Major), John Merton (first radio newscaster), Buddy Messinger (reporter in control room), Gertrude Messinger (airport diner waitress), Hal Price (sick girl's father), David Sharpe (reporter Morgan), Billie Van Every (Jean Van Every), Carleton Young (air show announcer)

 

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Yesterday's Heros with ping-pong balls

When I was a young kid we had heroes . . . real heroes . . . men and women who challenged destiny to push the knowledge of the unknown to new heights. The world held their breath as John Glenn left the earth's atmosphere in a small space capsule, and for years after there were more space pioneers who bravely faced death and the unknown.

For my father's generation the heroes were the aviation pioneers that built their own airplanes and invented the instruments and gadgets that made them fly more reliably. In the beginnings of man's attempts to leave the earth there was no government effort with dozens of scientists and specialists to advance the technology . . . there were only men with vision who built and flew the machines that would carry us all into the sky.

In 1952 Henry Tyndall 'Dick' Merrill was the personal pilot for Presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower, and was Eastern Airlines most experienced pilot until his retirement in 1961. Long before that Dick Merrill, who was related to Daniel Boone, began his pioneering air adventure.

After flying in early airplanes during World War I, Merrill purchased a war surplus plane and flew in air shows and by 1930 was earning an amazing ten cents a mile as a crack air mail pilot. In 1935 Jimmy Doolittle made a record setting flight across the Atlantic, and Dick Merrill got an idea . . . he wanted to fly across the Atlantic, then quickly re-fuel and make the trip back across the Atlantic, which was thought to be impossible with the frailty of airplane parts.

Along with Jack Lambie, who is also featured in this movie, a Vultee V1A airplane was fitted and flown with the latest technology available . . . and the cabin was filled with 41,000 ping pong balls . . . if the plane went down over the ocean the ping pong balls would hopefully keep them afloat!

That flight in 1936 met with problems that prevented the crossing to be non-stop, but on May 10, 1937 they tried again, in what would become known as the Coronation flight. Hearst newspapers sponsored the flight that would bring photos of the Hindenburg disaster to England in time for the coronation of King George VI, and return to America with the first photos of the King's coronation.

After this record setting flight in May, Monogram Pictures quickly put together a movie about flying across the ocean and back again, featuring film footage from that flight along with the two pilots themselves, Dick Merrill and Jack Lambie . . . and this is that movie, released about three months after the actual flight. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Carleton Young announces the air show
Carleton Young announces the air show
Dick Merrill, Gertrude Messinger and Weldon Heyburn
Dick Merrill, Gertrude Messinger and Weldon Heyburn
Dick Merrill and Weldon Heyburn
Dick Merrill and Weldon Heyburn
Dick Merrill in Atlantic Flight
Dick Merrill in Atlantic Flight
George Cleveland
George Cleveland
Gertrude Messinger as the airport diner waitress
Gertrude Messinger as the airport diner waitress
Gertrude Messinger in Atlantic Flight
Gertrude Messinger in Atlantic Flight
Harry Hayden and David Sharpe
Harry Hayden and David Sharpe
Ivan Lebedeff
Ivan Lebedeff
Jack Lambie, Dick Merrill and Milburn Stone
Jack Lambie, Dick Merrill and Milburn Stone
Jack Lambie and Dick Merrill
Jack Lambie and Dick Merrill
Jack Lambie, Paula Stone and Ivan Lebedeff
Jack Lambie, Paula Stone and Ivan Lebedeff
John Merton as a radio newscaster in Atlantic Flight
John Merton as a radio newscaster in Atlantic Flight
Lyle Moraine sings a song
Lyle Moraine sings a song
Milburn Stone with cousin Paula Stone
Milburn Stone with cousin Paula Stone
Milburn Stone calls the tower
Milburn Stone calls the tower
Milburn Stone as airplane mechanic Pokey Schultz
Milburn Stone as airplane mechanic Pokey Schultz
Paula Stone and Milburn Stone in Atlantic Flight
Paula Stone and Milburn Stone in Atlantic Flight
Paula Stone, Dick Merrill and Weldon Heyburn
Paula Stone, Dick Merrill and Weldon Heyburn
Paula Stone, Dick Merrill and Weldon Heyburn
Paula Stone, Dick Merrill and Weldon Heyburn
Paula Stone and Jack Lambie at the air races
Paula Stone and Jack Lambie at the air races
Paula Stone and Ivan Lebedeff
Paula Stone and Ivan Lebedeff
Paula Stone meets Weldon Heyburn
Paula Stone meets Weldon Heyburn
Paula Stone in Atlantic Flight
Paula Stone in Atlantic Flight