Some time this afternoon between 3 and 5 o'clock the two men who almost have completed the greatest journey ever undertaken by man will reach Cleveland.
Wiley Post, pilot, and Harold Gatty, navigator, will touch earth here in their Lockheed monoplane, the Winnie Mae, in which they have flown eastward around the crown of the world, bound from New York to New York.
When they arrive here, they will have been nine days and eight nights in the air-and when they arrive in New York tomorrow they will have circled the globe in the fastest time man ever has made on such a journey.
At noon today their log showed 193 hours out of New York. Of this time, they have been on the ground 71 hours and 19 minutes, and less than half of that they spent in sleep.
When they arrive in Cleveland, they will have traveled 14,900 miles, with about 450 miles left to go to reach their destination at Roosevelt Field.
So great has been their speed they will reach New York before the first pictures of their arrival in Chester, England, reach that city. The laundry they sent back from Europe will still be upon the ocean when they land at the end of their journey.
In the course of their flight they performed two hops which themselves would have been historical-the 2,250-mile jump from Newfoundland to England, across the Atlantic, and the 2,400-mile jump from Khabarovsk to Nome, across the Siberian wilderness and the Bering waters.
As the flyers neared the end of their journey, the magnitude of the enterprise began to dawn upon the world. New York today was preparing to give the two airmen the greatest ovation ever staged-an ovation even surpassing that prepared for Col. Charles Lindbergh.
The world was beginning to agree with Capt. Jimmy Doolittle, who yesterday called the Post-Gatty flight "The greatest flight in the history of aviation."
The two globe-girders will not pause long in Cleveland.
As he watched the warming up of the Winnie Mae at Edmonton in the small hours of this morning, Gatty said:
"We will make straight for Cleveland. On our arrival there we will take on fuel and hop off immediately for New York. We expect to reach Roosevelt Field this evening soon after dark."
The nature of their entertainment here will depend upon their wishes. It is expected thousands will go to the airport to watch the entry. Cleveland is prepared to "blow off the lid" if Post and Gatty care to stay for it, but the history of the flight indicates they will have but one thing in mind-the completion of their journey...
Long stop-overs have not been characteristic of their journey.
The plane in which man's greatest achievement in the air has been accomplished is a Lockheed monoplane, with a fuel capacity of 425 gallons. It carries a Pratt-Whitney Wasp engine capable of developing 425 horsepower and providing a cruising speed of 160 miles an hour.
The plane carries a sending and receiving set tuned at 35.5 meters, using the call letters KHRDW. Two aperiodic compasses, an artificial horizon and numerous other of most modern navigating devices are included in its equipment.
The plane dropped to its field at Edmonton at 6:37 Cleveland time last night (4:37 Edmonton time). It was raining. It had been raining all day. The field was a sea of churned mud. The plane stuck and had to be hauled to a paved road by tractor. It was from this paved road that takeoff was accomplished.
The flyers themselves, riding in Mayor James Douglas' auto, were stalled in the mud when the machine sank to its hubs. Post fell into a deep sleep in the auto. Both he and Gatty were dog tired. Despite their assertions to newspaper men, "We're so used to being awake now we don't care whether we sleep or not," they dropped off as soon as their heads touched the pillows.
They were up at 2:30 a.m. Edmonton time (4:30 Cleveland time) announcing they had slept well and were feeling "fit as a fiddle."
They ate a thumping breakfast of pancakes, ham and eggs, and went to inspect the plane. Both looked to be in fine shape, altho both have lost weight.
As dawn came, the rain abated somewhat, and the flyers faced a prospect of decent flying weather, with a 45-mile tailwind-and (after days of moderate temperatures) a dive into the big American heatwave.
They took off on the broad pavement without mishap, nosing into the gray, misty dawn en route for Cleveland, the home stretch pause.
The best aerial record for going around the world is that of the Graf Zeppelin, which made it in 22 days 13 hours in 1929.
The flight was a geographical fantasy, covering almost every kind of terrain known to man. From industrial sections to incredible deserts; from rich prairie tilth to wilderness; from places where men sleep 10 in a room to places where man never has set his foot.
Leaving New York, the flyers followed the New England coast, past fishing villages and industrial towns, into the "forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks" of the Evangeline country, and on to Newfoundland, where the Vikings came before the days of Columbus.
From there began that part of their flight which hitherto has been spectacular enough for most aviators-the hop across the dreary Atlantic-over the approximate region where the Titanic went down-the region of gale and storm where icebergs come down from the polar drift.
They touched earth in Chester, England-in the county of Cheshire-historical for its cheese. Crossing England they passed over the steel district of Sheffield, where fine cutlery is made; over Nottingham forest, where Robin Hood fought quarter-staff with Friar John and established his merry sylvan outlaw company in the days when Richard the Lion Hearted was off to fight the Saracens; over the territory where the gant, stern men of Cromwell fought the Cavaliers.
Leaving England and crossing its channel, they flew over the flat gardens of Holland, where the only hills are the high, white cumulous clouds, and the ground is sawed into patterns by canals, and the tall windmills slowly turn.
From Holland they entered Germany at a point where the tributaries of the Rhine and the Rhine itself drain a rich gardening countryside. To the south they could see the heavy smoke of the Essen steel territory.
They stopped at Hanover, a stately city at the edge of the Ruhr valley industrial dominion, and went from there to Berlin, the gay capital of Germany. And from Berlin the went to Moscow by the route that Napoleon's armies went on their disastrous errand-but it was hot on the long plains where Napoleon's legions walked barefooted in the crusted snow.
In Moscow they found a city of oriental curiosity-a city which shelters under its onion-shaped domes the new regime of Russia, the vastest country on the face of the globe.
They learned how vast it was. From Moscow to Nome, over Siberia, they flew 5,400 miles-more than one-fifth the length of the equator, more than one-third of their total from New York by way of the world's rim.
In Siberia they flew over wastes where not a break of in scenery relieved the monotony. They flew over little villages of sheds, where Mongols, Tartars and the scum of the near-and-far Orient live as upon another planet.
They flew over chasms which looked like the pranks of a god gone merrily and mightily insane; over long, broad forests in which no man's voice ever had rung among the branches of the trees.
And at last-having gone the route of a Jules Verne adventurer-they took breath for the longest leap of their flight, a leap even longer than the one across the Atlantic. It was over terrain that was more desolate than the ocean, for upon the ocean ships come and go and upon the Siberian waste there is no life, no traffic, nothing but wilderness.
Twenty-four hundred miles they leaped from Khabarovsk to Nome.
From Nome to Fairbanks they flew over the Yukon country, where men fought the frozen wilderness for gold.
From Fairbanks to Edmonton they flew over wilderness again-over pine woods unbroken, and muskeg pools so filled with rotting pine needs that the water could not be seen.
From Edmonton to the head of Lake Superior they flew over rich prairie farmland, and from there on to Cleveland where their path lay over the copper and iron mining territories, and the Great Lakes terrain.