Jackson, Dale & OBrine, Forest


St. Louis aviators, set flight endurance records in 1929 & 1930 (latter sadly not officially recognized)



Autograph ID: 6650
Condition: Very good, neatly slit open at top
Description: Dale Jackson (1907-1932) & Forest O’Brine (1896-1944) took off in the “St. Louis Robin” July 13, 1929. They said they wanted to check out a new motor, but the airplane had odd-looking catwalks. When their goal became clear, they made the front pages for 2 weeks of breathless reporting. After 420h 21m aloft, 17-1/2 days, they were cheered as heroes with a St. Louis tickertape parade Aug. 1. The pilots enjoyed fame during one of the fads of early aviation, keeping an airplane aloft indefinitely by aerial refueling to test motor design progress in an era when airplane motors were prone to sudden calamity.

The endurance record was broken 4 times earlier in 1929 and a California duo just finished 246 hours aloft. Competing teams were circling over Houston and Minneapolis. Jackson and O’Brine’s plane, built by Curtiss-Robinson Aviation at Lambert Field, had a 170hp, 6-cylinder air-cooled motor burning 6 gals. of gasoline and a pint of oil every hour. Gawkers jammed Lambert and papers published messages that Jackson and O’Brine dropped onto the field. The motor needed regular tinkering so the pilots took turns on the catwalks to change fouled spark plugs and wires as the propeller whirled near their heads. They alternated shifts flying and sleeping. Refueling at 60mph was by 40′ hose from a 2nd airplane which also dangled a daily canister of food prepared by the pilots’ wives. On July 27, the Houston rivals lost their engine and landed; on July 29, the Minneapolis team died in a crash. The boss of the Jackson-O’Brine team announced they’d made their point; some 15,000 witnessed their landing at 7:38pm July 30. They quickly cut the motor to keep from slicing up the mob rushing the Robin. A hotel gave the young couples suites and they split $31,000.

The record lasted a year. Determined to win it back, they flew 647 consecutive hours over St. Louis in July 1930 and came down because of a cracked crankcase that O’Brine determined by crawling out on a catwalk during the flight. As they didn’t complete their log, the National Aeronautical Assn. wouldn’t accept their feat. Jackson finished 3rd in 1931 Thompson Trophy Race and was 25 when he died stunt flying in Miami in 1932; Capt. O’Brine, 48, was killed in a 1944 bomber crash in Texas.

US airmail 3 ½ x 6 ½ envelope postmarked St. Louis, August 18 1930, dated at end of the 2nd O’Brine-Jackson 1930 (not officially recognized) record endurance flight with cachet commemorating flight signed by O’Brine, Jackson and crew of the “Patsy Ann” (Bill Brewster & B. Chaffee) which supplied and refueled them in the air. Neatly typed addressed.
Type: Signed Cover

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