From Reno to San Francisco

Pilots flying the mail cross-country in 1921 followed these directions to find landmarks along the way.

Reno, Nevada, Postmaster Austin Jackson (left) hands a mail bag to pilot Harry Huking in his DH-4 mailplane, July 1924. (NASM (SI-A-44465-E))

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177.  Durant Field, Oakland, Calif.—On the eastern side of San Francisco Bay. The field runs almost due east and west and has a hangar, wind indicator, and T laid out on it. By coming in from the east over the hangar an unobstructed run of about 2,000 feet is obtained. North and south the field is rather narrow and somewhat rough. All supplies necessary for reservicing a ship may be obtained here. From here fly directly across San Francisco Bay. The course goes directly over Alcatraz Island, covered with white Government buildings. Goat Island, larger than Alcatraz, and more irregularly shaped, on which is located the Naval Station to be seen to the south.

187.  Marina Field—Is stationed on the south of San Francisco Bay, 3 miles from the Golden Gate, on the east portion of the old fair grounds. It can be identified by the Palace of Fine Arts Building, which has a large dome roof, at the west end of the field; a monument 150 feet high, the Column of Progress, is on the north side of the field. The city of San Francisco is to the south. There is a prevailing southwest wind here. A double line of wires borders the eastern edge of the field and this, in conjunction with the gas plant in the same vicinity, force the pilot to come in high. The pilot should hold the ship off until the runway is reached coming in either direction, as both the east and west edges of the field are very rough. Landings should not be attempted from any direction other than the east and west.

Reprinted by permission from Pilots' Directions: The Transcontinental Airway and Its History, edited by William M. Leary, University of Iowa Press, 1990.




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