July 17, 1945
Billy Brock, An Unsung Hero Of Early Aviation
Around-the-World Flight Ends in Japan
In Wednesday's installment we reprinted an article written in July, 1927 about Billy Brock's airplane trip from Tennessee to Springfield and Urbana during the World War No.1. When that article was originally written, no news had been given out as to Billy's plan to fly around the world. He made that world flight in the late summer of 1927, and that same Pennsylvania plant newspaper had an article about it in its issue of Oct. 12, 1927. Here is the article:
"In our issue of July the twelfth we printed an article which was entitled: 'Unsung Heroes of the Air'. We were inspired to write that by Lindbergh's ocean triumph. When we printed that article we had no idea that Billy Brock had intended to try what he has just done. You will remember, we wound up our article of July the twelfth by the statement that the last we heard of Billy Brock, he was taking up passengers at a modest fee.
"Well, you must have read about the around-the-world flyers, who started out to fly around the world, and who got as far as Japan- Brock and Schlee. The Brock who flew this airplane is the same Brock of whom we wrote. He is about thirty-two years old, and is a courageous, but an exact and careful flyer.
"Here is what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said about their flight in the editorial column of August 20th, the morning after they had landed in England:
"The successful negotiation by William S. Brock and Edward Schlee of the first leg of their projected around-the-world trip by air, completing the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from America to England naturally raises hopes for the achievement of their entire object. They are seeking to beat the globe-circling record of twenty-eight days, fourteen hours and thirty minutes, made by Edward Evans and Linton Wells last year by utilizing steamer, railroad, automobile and airplane; Brock and Schlee, depending wholly upon their monoplane, Pride of Detroit, expect to make the trip in twenty-eight days or less. Their covering the 2,350 miles from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to the airport at Croyden, England in twenty-three hours and twenty minutes is a good start on their schedule. The extraordinary thoroughness with which this trip was planned gives a practical interest to it along with that which may be merely of the thrill type. Schlee, the backer and Brock, the pilot, had been at work on the preparations for a year. With the mapping out of their course, there was also provision over the route of fuel and service stations. The Pride of Detroit was built with the same care, and tested. It won by a large margin the Ford trophy against a field of fourteen specially prepared planes in a 4,200 mile test. The total mileage of the course in this undertaking is 22,067, with a total of 240 hours allowed for flying. However the object of the trip may be viewed, the thoroughness of the preparation for it meets the growing demand against recklessness in setting out on air journeys involving long flights over water'
"Brock and Schlee flew no further than Japan, and abandoned their trip there, partly because there was no gasoline supply at the Midway Islands, their next objective, and partly because of the hundreds of cablegrams they received begging them not to try to fly across the Pacific Ocean, including a 'request' from President Coolidge. They realized that after the large number of deaths in attempting ocean flights, an accident to them would retard the progress of aviation. And they were more interested in the development of aviation than they were in any personal triumph. But at least they demonstrated that hard work, studious preparation, and careful courage and determination are essentials to successful flying."
This is the same Billy Brock who was born in West Liberty, raised in Springfield, and who began flying before he was sixteen years old. In a later account, we will tell you something about how Billy learned to fly.