Submitted by Chuck Mathias
Time: Dawn, July 28, 1929.
Place: Tacoma Airfield, later a part of McChord Air Force Base.
A huge and enthusiastic crowd gathers to witness a historic take off—and is horrified to see a quick and spectacular crackup instead. Luckily, the pilot escapes with minor injuries, but his plane, the “City of Tacoma” never flies again.
It’s an inauspicious beginning for one man’s dream to become the first aviator to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean. But this is an era of unbridled optimism—and pilot Harold Bromley is not a man easily deterred…
After all, think of the payoff—instant and overwhelming fame for both Bromley and the city backing him: Tacoma, Washington, USA. Just two years earlier Charles Lindbergh had set the world on fire with his solo flight across the Atlantic. Imagine the uproar when Harold, in his bright orange single-engine monoplane, touched down in Tokyo, ending a flight more than a thousand miles longer than Lindy’s!
Alas, it was not to be—but it makes a great story nonetheless: Bromley’s early career at the dawn of aviation, his long life afterwards, the wealthy Tacoma booster who supplied his ill-fated plane, the giant ramp designed to propel Harold to greatness, the later attempts from the opposite direction—all the ingredients of a fabulous, Quixotic quest that challenged the heavens…and failed.
Michael Sullivan, noted historical preservationist and owner of Artifacts, Inc, takes us back to the heady days of barnstorming and boosterism to soar and crash along with Harold in a FREE program sponsored by the Lakewood Historical Society. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 16030 Gravelly Lake Drive SW in Lakewood, Tuesday, April 24 at 7:00 pm. All are welcome, refreshments will be served.