16 Aug: The Deadly Air Race

Aviation in the 1920s could be a lethal business, as proven on 16th August 1927, when only 2 of the 15 planes that entered The Dole Derby – a $35,000 contest to fly from California to Hawaii – successfully reached their destination. 

The brainchild of pineapple magnate James D. Dole, the competition inspired the public imagination – and a crowd of 100,000 people – but claimed the lives of TEN participants.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider the inefficient and dangerous aeronautics of the time; explain how winning team Woolaroc were able to distinguish themselves ahead of the pack; and reveal how the modern-day Dole company have distanced themselves from such provocative promotions… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Fifteen Planes Enter, Two Planes Leave – The Deadly Dole Air Race’ (Atlas Obscura, 2011): https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/morbid-monday-deadly-dole-air-race

• ‘Dole Air Race: The Daring and Pioneering Conquest Across the Pacific’ (STSTW, 2018): https://www.ststworld.com/dole-air-race/

• ‘Army Officers Hop Off For Hawaii’ (1927):

Image courtesy of San Diego Air & Space Museum