World-class aviator and a four-year-old stowaway
Clarence Chamberlin: The man
who would be Lindbergh

by Ken Brooks
       Charles Lindbergh earned everlasting fame for being first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, on May 20, 1927. The second pilot to accomplish that feat--Clarence Chamberlin,who has a Panama City connection--has been largely forgotten. But for an untimely legal dispute, in fact, Chamberlin would have beaten Lindbergh across the Atlantic and into the history books.
     Chamberlin, born in Ohio in 1893, learned to fly as an employee of an advertising tow-sign company. In 1927 a $25,000 prize was offered to the first pilot to cross the ocean. Chamberlin, ready to fly, was delayed by a dispute over ownership of his plane. By the
time the matter was settled, Lucky Lindy had left for Paris.
     Fifteen days later, on June 4, Chamberlin (and businessman Charles Levin) flew non-stop from New York to Germany. Chamberlin thus became the first man to fly a passenger to Europe. His trip of 3,911 miles had shattered Lindy's distance record as well.
Later Chamberlin became America's first aerial reporter, snapping photos of fires and floods for the New York Times. In May 1937 Chamberlin flew state legislator Carl Gray from Tallahassee to Panama City. "It was evening," recalls local aviator Johnny Reaver, 84, "and there were no lights

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