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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lituanica Reborn

It's 1931 in Chicago when Stanley Girenas, a pilot and mechanic, met Stephen Darius, a former Lithuanian Air Force officer and together they formulated the adventure of their lifetime.  These aviators pooled their money, and in the spring of 1932 they purchased a Bellanca CH300 Pacemaker--- the choice of many pilots attempting to fly long distances.

Darius' dream? To fly to Lithuania, and Girenas was on board. But their plane needed modifications before they could make the long flight. Short of funds, Darius and Girenas began barnstorming to earn enough to modify their beloved Pacemaker. They accepted donations and honored those who gave more than $25 by inscribing their names on the fuselage.


It wasn't long until the major modifications to the wings, gear, and engine, along with bright orange painted fabric were complete at E.M. Laird's maintenance facility near, what's today's, Chicago Midway airport. Then on July 15, 1933, the Pacemaker, christened "Lituanica" arrived at Floyd Bennett Field, New York City's first municipal's airport.

As coincidence would have it, the famous Wiley Post was schedule to depart the next day on his single pilot, record setting, around the world flight and the media was out in force.

Darius and Girenas didn't have permission to transit various countries. They didn't have authorization from the US Department of Commerce. But after Wiley Post departed, Darius and Girenas filled Lituanica's gas tanks, stating they needed to perform a test flight with her fully loaded, and taxied onto the runway.

At 0624 EDT on July 15th, 1933 Lituanica took to the sky. With a gross weight of 8,280 lbs, 779 gallons of fuel and 32 gallons of oil, they departed the 4400 ft runway for their 4,400 statute mile great circle route. Slowly the Lituanica climbed over the Jamaica Bay, and Darius turned her northeast.

They headed toward the Atlantic in silence--- In order to save weight they'd left their radios behind. Days later there was a note found in Newfoundland saying, "all was well." According to their log, they flew from Newfoundland across the Atlantic and over northern Scotland. From Scotland they drifted south of track, being seen over a labor camp in Belinchen, Germany at approximately midnight. From there they changed direction heading to the southwest...

Tomorrow the journey continues...

~ Karlene

4 comments:

  1. How exciting! I can hardly wait to hear how their journey turned out! I admire brave souls like them so much.

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  2. Wow, great story. I'll be tuning in tomorrow to see what happens next.

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  3. Heather, Vic, and Linda the story continues tomorrow.

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