The Route: Iowa City to North Platte

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

DH-4 mailplanes at Fort Crook airfield, Omaha, Nebraska, in the mid-1920s. (NASM (SI-89-12152))

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271.    Monroe—Slightly south of course on Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. Three lines out of this town.

296.    Des Moines—Five miles north of course. Largest city near course between Iowa City and Omaha. Keep the Raccoon River in sight until about 18 miles out. From here on keep the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific in sight. This railroad follows the direction of the Raccoon River for this distance. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific is 2 to 7 miles north of the course.

368.    Atlantic, Iowa—Three miles north of the course on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway. At Atlantic the railroads branch in five directions. If on the course at this point, that is, 3 miles south of Atlantic, fly nearly due west until Council Bluffs is seen.

413.    Council Bluffs, Iowa—Five miles east of the Missouri River.

418.    Missouri River, which is very irregular in its course and width at this point.

424.    Omaha, Nebr.—Field is west of city and can be identified by large hangar with white circle and cross on roof. North of field is large race track and grandstand. There are two good approaches, from north and west.

Omaha to North Platte


0.    Omaha, Nebr.—The air mail field is on the western outskirts of the city, and is 5 miles west of the Missouri River. The field is rectangular, the long way of the rectangle being east and west. On the north side of the field is a long grand stand facing northward and extending east and west. To the north of the grand stand is a large field with an elliptical race track in it This race track is an excellent landmark, and the oval may be used for landing if necessary. The west side of the mail field is bounded by a brook, a few trees, and a railroad track. On the south the field is bounded by a paved road which ends to the eastward at the Missouri River. This same road runs due west for several miles beyond the mail field. On the south side of the field are some high trees and a few telephone poles. A private hangar is situated across the road from the air mail field with the word “Airdrome” painted on the roof. The air mail hangar is located in the southeast corner of the field. The east side of the field is bounded by two steel wireless towers and a hill covered with high trees. From the northwest is the best approach, although landings can be made from any direction if made into the wind.

20.    The Platte River is crossed at right angles by flying due west from the Omaha field. By noting section lines the pilot can determine the correct compass course correcting for drift, as North Platte and Cheyenne are almost due west of Omaha. For a distance of 70 miles the Platte River is north of the course never at a greater distance than 10 miles. The Platte River should be crossed between two bridges, one 2 miles north and the other 2 miles south of the course.

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