Captain Henry T. Merrill

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Captain Henry T. Merrill

Inducted in 1976

First Pilot To Make A Commercial Round-trip Flight Over The Atlantic, 1937

1894 – 1982

In September 1936, Captain Henry “Dick” Merrill safely piloted his plane, a single engine Vultee VI called “Lady Peace,” in the first round-trip non-stop crossing of the North Atlantic. Harry Richman, a New York entertainer, was his passenger, along with 30,000 ping-pong balls added in the wings for additional flotation.

Eight months later on May 14, 1937, Merrill completed his fourth non-stop round-trip flight over the North Atlantic. Not only was this a record flight (actual flight time of 24 hours, 25 seconds), but it was the first “commercial” round-trip over the Atlantic. With this flight, Merrill proved that speedy and dependable flight service between Europe and the United States was possible.

Merrill made many daring flights during the early days of airmail delivery, prompting Captain Eddie Rickenbacker to label him the “best commercial pilot” in the United States. From 1928 to 1930, he flew the night mail run from Richmond to Atlanta, never canceling a trip because of bad weather. Merrill retired from regular airplane flying in 1961 after 36,650 hours flown over a period of 33 years.

Merrill made many daring flights during the early days of airmail delivery, prompting Captain Eddie Rickenbacker to label him the “best commercial pilot” in the United States. From 1928 to 1930, he flew the night mail run from Richmond to Atlanta, never canceling a trip because of bad weather. Merrill retired from regular airplane flying in 1961 after 36,650 hours flown over a period of 33 years.

2014-08-01T20:10:41+00:00