Alexandrina Robertson Harris, born Aberdeen, Scotland 1886-died New York City 1978
watercolor on ivory
4 1/4 x 3 1/2 in. (10.8 x 8.9 cm) rectangle
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alexandrina Bruce
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) is known as much for her mysterious disappearance during an attempt to fly around the world as for her pioneering accomplishments. Born in Atchison, Kansas, Earhart bought her first plane in 1921. In 1929 she organized an all-women’s air race from Los Angeles to Cleveland, which Will Rogers dubbed the “Powder Puff Derby,” and with a group of women pilots was a founder and first president of the Ninety-Nines, the first professional women pilots’ organization. In 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, five years to the day after Lindbergh had been the first man to do so. Three years later she flew a solo transpacific flight from Hawaii to California, for which President Roosevelt remarked, "You have scored again . . . (and) shown even the ‘doubting Thomases’ that aviation is a science which cannot be limited to men only." In 1937 she and navigator Fred Noonan embarked on a planned flight around the world; but on July 2, Earhart’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, and neither she nor her plane was ever found.
William Bertus Voortmeyer (1891-1952) was a master maritime navigator who developed many early aerial navigation systems, including a numerical signal code by which ships at sea were able to advise pilots of their position by hoisting numerical flags to indicate the distance to a destination. Voortmeyer was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and at age 13 went to sea as a cabin boy on the sailing ship of which his father was captain. Voortmeyer spent the next twenty years at sea, earning a Master Mariners License. During World War I, he was a navigating officer in the transport service. When he left the sea, he held several Civil Aeronautics and Administration (CAA) and California State teaching credentials and was a certified instructor of hulls, an aviation cadet instructor, a pilot, and a Tug Master. He taught classes in marine navigation, writing books on navigation including Guide to Air Pilotage and Meteorology, and Air Navigation. During the late 1920s, he was a navigation adviser on several pioneering flights, including the first successful flight across the Pacific ocean by Ernie Smith, the Dole Flight and the pioneering flight of Charles Kingsford-Smith in 1928. Voortmeyer was also a navigation consultant for Amelia Earhart and for pioneering flights to the Arctic. From 1930 to 1935 he was with the Port of Oakland as a nautical consultant. In 1928, Voortmeyer developed an internationally adopted Numerical Flag Code, a numeral signal code which made it unnecessary for air navigators to master the international semaphore signaling code, by designing pennants with the number from one to ten that ships would hoist when aircraft were flying over head so that the aircraft could confirm their position. During WWII, Captain Voortmeyer was an aviation ground instructor in Navigation at the Pensacola Naval Training Station, Florida. He returned to the sea in command of various transport ships, including the Liberty ship, the Henry Hoyt. In 1946 he was captain of the Benjamin Warner and in 1947 was appointed as a pilot of one of Oakland's fireboats
This collection consists of the following items documenting the career of Captain William B. Voortmeyer: newspaper clippings; photocopies of four photographs; a CD copy of Voortmeyer's unpublished manuscript, "The Rise of Air Power Over the Pacific," 1941; Air Navigation, textbook for the Air Training Center by Voortmeyer; manuscript of "The Modern Air of Pilotage;" manuscript of a Navy Address, by Lt. W. B. Voortmeyer, 1936; manuscript of talk given on Oakland radio station KYA by Voortmeyer to Junior Birdmen, 1935; promotional flyer for "A Practical Course of 12 Lessons in Aerial Navigation and Meteorology" by Captain W. B. Voortmeyer, 1933; a card of the flag signaling system developed by Voortmeyer, signed July 1, 1927; and Oakland City Resolution No. 2337 in honor of Voortmeyer
Captain William B. Voortmeyer Papers, Accession 2010-0006, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
December 7, 1941 and the First Around-the-World Commercial Flight
National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian staff publications
Pan Am Boeing 314 Stranded. Six days from its home port of San Francisco, a luxurious Boeing 314 flying boat, the Pacific Clipper, was preparing to alight in Auckland, New Zealand, as part of the airline’s transpacific service when the crew of ten learned of the Japanese attack on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. All across the Pacific, Pan Am facilities came under assault: Wake Island, where the Martin M-130 Philippine Clipper returned just in time to pick up the Pan Am staff and escape although riddled with bullet holes; Manila, which had come under direct [...]
In July 1927, Ernest L. Smith (pilot) and Emory B. Bronte (navigator) attempted to fly from California to Hawaii. They crash-landed on the island of Molokai and lost radio communication. Neither man was injured. National attention was given for their efforts. Their Travelair was named 'The City of Oakland'. Mr. Bronte, born in 1902, was a pilot, a US Naval Reserve Air Service officer and a member of the National Aeronautic Association
The scrapbook is a reference of their flight with newspaper clippings, a few photographs of the downed plane and a piece of the aircraft fabric
On July 14-15, 1927, Ernest Smith and Emory Bronte made the first civilian transpacific flight from California to Hawaii in their Travelair 'City of Oakland.' Although they planned to land in Honolulu, problems with the gasoline pump and radio receiving apparatus forced them to crash-land in Molakai
This scrapbook, covered with Tahitian tapa cloth, chronicles the Smith-Bronte historic flight and consists of the following: including 30 letters; 23 telegrams; 197 photographs; 357 news articles; and 20 miscellaneous items
Map, US Department of the Navy, Hydrographic Office, "North Pacific Ocean, Eastern Part", 121st Ed., May 1925, used in conjunction with the 1928 flight of the Fokker F.VIIB/3M "Southern Cross". Signed by W. B. Voortmeyer, May 31, 1928. Handwritten annotations at lower right: Original Flight Map carried on the "Southern Cross" prepared by me and donated to the Smithsonian Institute on May 31, 1948, c/o Paul E. Garber, Curator."
In 1928, Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and his crew completed the first transpacific flight in the Fokker F.VIIB-3m "Southern Cross." William B. Voortmeyer was a master maritime navigator who had developed many early aerial navigation systems, including a numerical signal code by which ships at sea were able to advise pilots of their position by hoisting numerical flags to indicate the distance to a destination. For the "Southern Cross" flight, Voortmeyer prepared maps along major shipping lanes. The freighters and tankers provided hope of rescue should the Fokker be forced down and also provided important navigational updates
This collection consists of the 50.25 by 34 inch route map used by the crew of the Fokker F.VIIB-3m "Southern Cross" in 1928. The map is from the US Department of the Navy, Hydrographic Office, "North Pacific Ocean, Eastern Part," 121st ed., with the route marked by William B. Voortmeyer, and shows his instructions on magnetic declination and expected winds, as well as positions of commercial shipping. The map is signed by Captain W. B. Voortmeyer, May 31, 1928 and there is the following handwritten annotation on the lower right of the map, "Original Flight Map carried on the 'Southern Cross' prepared by me and donated to the Smithsonian Institute on May 31, 1948, c/o Paul E. Garber, Curator."
Fokker F.VIIB-3m "Southern Cross" (Kingsford-Smith) Route Map, Accession XXXX-0908, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution