“*crashes and dies horribly*”
~The average airplane pilot in the 1920s
On the grand scale of human endeavors, we as a species have only recently mastered the art of flight. We’ve been able to stay in the air in a contraption of our own design for only a little over 100 years at this point, and we’re still trying to work out the kinks (consider- Spirit Airlines). But in the early days of flight, we really had no clue what the hell we were doing. Like, at all. Flying was something done by a very select group of crazy people with a death wish—listen, Amelia Earhart was a pioneer and an inspiration and blah blah blah, but it’s safe to say that part of her legacy comes from the fact that she partook in a profession that all but guaranteed that we’d never got to see what she looked like as an old lady. The fact that Charles Lindbergh lived to be 72 is almost as shocking as the fact that he had a secret Nazi family.
The early days in aviation were filled with daring attempts to do something that had never been done before using planes that were made out of balsa wood, fabric, and a lot of praying. The ambition often exceeded the technology, and when we weren’t trying to milk sky cows, we were trying to fly to parts of the world that we had no right trying to fly to.
Which sets the scene for 1927, when James D. Dole, the “he actually was called this” Pineapple King, decided he would sponsor an air race from Oakland to Hawaii, a trip that had never been successfully flown before. The Dole Air Race that followed would end up going down in history as one of America’s finest and most tragic moments of “What the fuck did you think would happen?” Just always remember- the reason you are alive today is that your great-grandparents did not try to fly airplanes in 1927.
The Dole Air Race: Crash and Burn, Repeat