"the Dallas Spirit"
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ATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 1927, was a history-making day in
Dallas and in Texas. Thousands of spectators and numer-
ous city and state dignitaries gathered at Love Field to
honor Captain William P. Erwin and to observe the unveiling of
his airplane, the "Dallas Spirit." With this craft, Erwin was to
attempt to bring to Dallas the same fame and acclaim that inured
to St. Louis when Charles Lindbergh flew his "Spirit of St. Louis"
from New York to Paris, France, in May of 1927.
Underscoring the spirit of the times in this early period of
aviation following Lindbergh's flight to Paris and Clarence
Chamberlin's flight to Germany about two weeks later, a virtual
orgy of trans-oceanic projects sprang into being. The world seemed
to go crazy all of a sudden, and sponsors appeared from every-
where offering prizes for what were at the time outlandish flights
from Spokane to New York, from Canada to Great Britain, from
California to Hawaii and other Pacific points, and so on.
Captain Erwin's plans differed considerably in degree from
these projects, however, in that he was to attempt the most haz-
ardous air trip ever contemplated by man up until that time. He
would enter the Dole Flight from San Francisco to Hawaii for
the $25,000 first prize, and then go on to Hong Kong to attempt
to win the $25,000 prize offered by William E. Easterwood, Jr.,
of Dallas, for a Dallas to Hong Kong flight.2
#I have been planning to write this story about Captain William P. Erwin for
more than thirty years as a tribute to his courage and ability and to give him a
proper place in the sun. Finally I came to it, and one of the most impelling
reasons why I have written this bit of early aviation history is that Captain
Erwin received some unfounded criticisms in Dallas following his accident at the
first take-off in the Dole Flight. I was present in person during the whole time
and knew the exact facts of the case.
'Charles A. Lindbergh, Spirit of St. Louis (New York, 1953).
2Sponsors of the "Dallas Spirit" from Dallas to San Francisco to Hawaii, and
from Hawaii to Hong Kong, were: J. Perry Burrus, president, Burris Mill and
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed December 20, 2014.