First attempt to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean, 1931.

1930sAviationHistoric EventsPatriotism/Military
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Seiji Yoshiwara's route from Tokyo to San Francisco, 1931.

Yoshiwara Seiji’s planned route from Tokyo to San Francisco is depicted on this c. 1931 postcard. The flight was unsuccessful. Yoshiwara was forced by weather to ditch his plane in the ocean north of the Kurile Islands, several thousand miles short of his goal.

Brave flyer takes life in hand in daring North Pacific ocean

Japanese airman, 27, starts flight of 6268 miles in open plane

Associated Press, May 4, 1931

“Seiji Yoshihara, 27-year-old Japanese flyer, took off at 10:10 a.m. today on a 6268-mile flight to San Francisco via the Aleutian islands and British Columbia. A large crowd was at the airport to bid farewell to the aviator as final preparations were made for the flight.

“Alone and without radio, the ‘Lindbergh of Japan,’ as he is often called, started his light, open [Junkers A50] seaplane on a good will trip to America carrying to President Hoover a message from the Japanese magazine king, Seiji Noma, principal backer of the flight. He hoped to complete the first stage of the journey to Numasaki, 368 miles north of Tokyo, today. The next jump would take him 297 miles farther north to the extreme tip of Hokkaido island. Then his itinerary calls for flights over the Kurile islands to Petropavlovsk, Siberia, over the Bering sea to the Aleutians and after several stops to Steward, Alaska. Thence he would fly southward to Seattle, then to San Francisco. He would then go to Washington.

“The 27-year-old flyer speaks English but poorly but is better versed in German. His ignorance of the language will prove no deterrent to his success, he believes, and he expressed confidence of completing the flight without mishap despite the gales which swirl from the arctic circle and the fog which during May obscures the Aleutian islands more than a quarter of the time. Even the prediction of Thomas Ash Jr., who is planning a nonstop flight to America about May 30, that ‘It will be almost a miracle if Yoshiwara succeeds,’ has not deterred him.

“‘I wish Yoshihara all the success in the world,’ Ash said, ‘and he needs it. His flight is a most hazardous one. He is alone while the American army flyers in 1924 were able to assist each other in the rough weather over the Pacific. Yoshihara’s greatest handicap will be in locating his refueling stations, which may be obscured by fog.'”

Storm Delays Flight

Associated Press, May 7, 1931

“Fierce storms beat back the light seaplane of Seiji Yoshihara to [Nemuro, Japan] port today after he had taken off for Muroton Bay in the volcanic Kurile Islands on the third hop of his flight of 6,268 miles from Tokyo to San Francisco.”

Yoshiwara Seiji’s Junkers A50 floatplane, 1931.

Japan’s Lone Eagle Forced Down On His Pacific Flight

Reuters News Agency, May 19, 1931

“Mr. Seiji Yoshihara, the ‘Lone Eagle of Japan,’ has met with serious mishap on his flight across the Pacific, it was learned today. His Junkers seaplane was so badly damaged in a forced landing in the sea in the region of the Kurile Islands as to be beyond hope of immediate repair. The noted airman, fortunately, escape without injury, and has been instructed by the Hochi Shimbun, promoters of the flight, to await at Nemuro the arrival of a new machine.

“The mishap occurred on Thursday afternoon [May 14], during treacherous weather conditions, and for some considerable time anxiety for the flyer’s safety was felt. In spite of serious damage, however, the machine kept afloat, drifting for hours in the Pacific until [Yoshihara’s support ship], the Hakuho Maru, found the wreck in the vicinity of Shimushiru Bay.

“Mr. Yoshihara was several days behind schedule when the mishap occurred. Beginning his flight across the Pacific to San Francisco on May 4, when he hopped off from the Haneda International Aerodrome at Tokio, he made good progress to the Kurile Islands, stopping at Numasaki and Nemuro en route.

“On arrival at Siana, in Eturap Island, however, rough winds and a series of storms detained him on the island for several days.

“… No fewer than four vessels were engaged in scouring the waters in the vicinity before he was found, and Yoshihara had drifted helplessly miles from his original landing place.

“Yoshihara disclosed that he was forced down, making a crash landing at sea, and doing considerable damage to the plane which could not have floated for many hours longer.”

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