The Route: Cleveland to Iowa City

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

Aerial view of an airmail light beacon tower, somewhere along the New York to Chicago route, in the mid-1920s. (NASM (SI-78-12216))

U. S. Air Mail Service
Pilots’ Directions (February 1921)

Cleveland to Chicago

0.      Martin Field, Cleveland—Fly a little west of south for nearly 10 miles or about seven minutes flying and then due west, thus keeping over good emergency landing fields. The country between Cleveland and Chicago is divided into sections, section lines running due north and south and east and west. For the first 15 miles the lake shore is only a few miles north of the course.

20.    Elyria, Ohio—Five miles south of course. Five railroads radiate out of Elyria.

37.    Vermilion—Two miles north of the course. On Lake Erie. The New York Central Railroad follows the shore line of the lake from Vermilion to Sandusky.

55.    Sandusky—Five miles north of the course on Sandusky Bay, a large irregular body of water crossed by the New York Central Railroad. Continues due west from this point, following the east-west section lines.

112.    Maumee River, which you cross about 5 miles northeast of Grand Rapids and 5 miles south of Waterville. Waterville is on the east bank of the Maumee and Grand Rapids is on the south bank of the river where it turns east and parallels the course for 7 miles.

130.    Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad, crossed at right angles. Wausen is 7 miles north of the course and Napoleon is 5 miles south, both on the above-mentioned railroad. By flying about 11 miles north from the point where the Maumee River is crossed and then due west the New York Central four-track railroad will be picked up just before reaching Bryan.

152.    Bryan is located on the south side of the New York Central tracks, where they are crossed by the Chicago & North Western and Northern Railroads. Landing field with hangar and T cinder runway is north of town. Field is two-way, 2,000 feet east and west. Best approach from the east.

172.    Hamilton—Two miles north of course and 4 miles north of Bryan. On the extreme south end of irregular-shaped lake. The Wabash Railroad runs to the south of Hamilton. By keeping the Wabash Railroad in sight for the next 125 miles, you will come in sight of Lake Michigan.

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