PROGRESS in establishing air services across the Pacific has been slow. Except for a few enthusiasts, those interested in civilian aviation after the World War, both here and abroad, did not feel the same urge to explore the Pacific as they had to experiment with trans-Atlantic flights. The younger generation, in whose hands lay the development of civil aviation, conceived of foreign relations primarily in terms of intercourse between America and Europe. And there were no Northcliffes or Orteigs to offer prizes for flights across the Pacific. In 1921 air mail service had been put into operation between New York and San Francisco, and in 1929 the Dutch had opened a mail line from Amsterdam to the East Indies. But only in 1935 did a regular air service span the great 10,000 mile gap between. Even now, the aërial development of the Pacific area as a whole is still in a tentative stage.
Until recently American interest in the Pacific was largely confined to the Army and Navy. They had long been concerned with the strategy of that ocean and with the balance of power in China. Both evinced a desire to operate aircraft in the Pacific area at an early date, but were frustrated by the enormous distances and by the airplane's limited technical capacity. The problem of Pacific flying was, and remains, the problem of finding a route.
The first trans-Pacific route to be flown was a detour. After the World War the late General William Mitchell began to urge the possibility of skirting both the Pacific and the Atlantic by their Arctic fringes, and to proclaim the dangers of an aërial invasion of America by those routes, especially by the Arctic stepping-stones from the Orient. A desire to test these Arctic routes played a large part in the Army's plans for its flight around the world in 1924. The successful completion of this flight served to show that the Pacific could be flown with no single jump of more than 800 miles
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