The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 16
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
As further evidence of the spirit of the times, Lloyd's Insurance
Agency, which will insure practically anything, stated on August
12 that it would have nothing to do with the Dole airplane race
to Hawaii. Charles Vornholt, the San Francisco representative,
declared that the venture was too dangerous, and that the agency
would neither quote insurance rates on the planes or the fliers
nor offer odds for or against them.a This bears out the title of the
flight itself, "The Last Fool Flight."
If ever a man was equipped to undertake a perilous journey
of this nature, however, it was William P. Erwin. During World
War I, he became the third ranking American ace, being officially
credited with nine enemy planes and two probables,4 and on May
Elevator Company; Karl Hoblitzelle, president, Interstate Theaters; E. Gordon Perry,
president, Perry Motor Company; C. R. Miller, president, Texas Textile Mills;
Phil T. Prather, president, Prather Cadillac Company; Julius Schepps, pres-
ident, Schepps Bakeries; Otto Herold, president, Oriental Laundry; Fred F.
Florence, president, Republic National Bank of Dallas; W. H. L. McCourtie,
president, Trinity Portland Cement Company; R. A. Crawford, vice president, Lone
Star Gas Company; John W. Carpenter, president, Texas Power and Light Com-
pany; C. W. Hobson, president, Love Field Properties; E. R. Brown, president,
Magnolia Petroleum Company; Walter Prehn, general manager, Southwestern Bell
Telephone Company; G. B. Dealey, president, the Dallas News and Dallas Journal.
sDallas News, August 13, 1927.
4Service Record of Captain William P. Erwin (MS., War Department, Washing-
ton, D. C.) . The record reads as follows:
Captain William P. Erwin was born at Ryan, Oklahoma, on October 18, 1895.
He attended high school at Amarillo, Texas, and later studied music in New York
City and in Chicago. An accomplished pianist and composer, he made several tours
throughout the country.
Captain Erwin's military career started on August 15, 1917, when he enlisted for
training in the aviation section of the Signal Corps at Austin, Texas. After com-
pleting the ground school, he was sent to France for flying training. At Issoudun
and various other American centers in France, he went through the usual routine
of flying training, completing the course of instruction about April, 1918, when he
was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the aviation section of the Signal Officers'
We next find him assigned to the First Aero Squadron, one of the tactical units
of the first army observation group. It was while on duty with this squadron that
he made a remarkable record. He was twice cited for bravery in action and received
the Distinguished Service Cross with the oak leaf cluster. The first citation was for
action at Chateau-Thierry and the oak leaf cluster was awarded for action at St.
Several stories are told of Captain Erwin and his observer, Captain Byrne Baucom.
These two officers particularly enjoyed "strafing" ground troops and were of
considerable annoyance to the machine gun nests of the enemy. They would dis-
cover these nests by drawing their fire, and several incidents have been told of
how our ground troops would destroy the nests discovered by Erwin and Baucom.
Captain Erwin is credited with the destruction of nine enemy aircraft.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/36/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.