Daily Archives: March 1, 2024

1 March 1925

Ryan Airlines begins regularly scheduled passenger service, at Dutch Flats, San Diego, California, 1 March 1925.

1 March 1925: Ryan Airlines Incorporated, founded by Tubal Claude Ryan and Frank Mahoney, began a regularly-scheduled passenger airline service, the Los Angeles–San Diego Air Line. The airline connected San Diego and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in southern California.

One of the airplanes used the Douglas Aircraft Company’s first airplane, a Davis-Douglas Cloudster, which was modified to carry as many as ten passengers, and three Standard Aero Corporation J-1 trainers, each modified to carry four passengers.

Scheduled flights departed Los Angeles for San Diego at 9:00 a.m., daily, and from San Diego to Los Angeles at 4:00 p.m., daily. The fare for a one-way flight was $14.50, and a round trip was $22.50.

Airline timetable from teh collection of Daniel Kusrow at www.timetableimages.com)
Airline timetable from the collection of Daniel Kusrow at www.timetableimages.com)

The photograph below (from the collection of the San Diego Air and Space Museum) shows opening day activities at Dutch Flats, near the current intersection of Midway Drive and Barnett Avenue, in the city of San Diego.

First regularly scheduled passenger service, Ryan Airlines, 1 March 1925 at Dutch Flats, San Diego, California (San Diego Air and Space Museum)
First regularly scheduled passenger service, Ryan Airlines, 1 March 1925 at Dutch Flats, San Diego, California (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

The Davis-Douglas Cloudster was the first airplane built by the Douglas Airplane Company in Santa Monica, California. Donald Douglas’s investor, David R. Davis, had asked for an airplane to attempt a non-stop cross country flight.

Davis-Douglas Cloudster airframe and Liberty L-12 engine. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Davis-Douglas Cloudster. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

The Cloudster was built by the Davis-Douglas Company at Santa Monica, California. It was a two-place, single-engine, single-bay biplane. It was 36 feet, 9 inches (11.201 meters) long, with a wingspan 55 feet, 11 inches (17.043 meters), and height 12 feet, 0 inches (3.658 meters). Its gross weight was 9,600 pounds (4,355 kilograms).

The Cloudster was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 1,649.34-cubic-inch-displacement (27.028 liter) Liberty 12 single overhead cam (SOHC) 45° V-12 engine, which produced 408 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m., and drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller.

The Cloudster had a cruise speed of 85 miles per hour (137 kilometers per hour), and maximum of 120 miles per hour (193 kilometer per hour). Its normal range was 550 miles (885 kilometers), but when equipped for the transcontinental flight, its range was increased to 2,700 miles (4,345 kilometers).

Davis-Douglas Cloudster (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

The Cloudster first flew on 24 February 1921. It was the first airplane capable of lifting a payload greater than its own weight. The airplane was flew 785 miles (1,263 kilometers) in 8 hours, 45 minutes, when a timing gear failed, forcing a landing in Texas. The airplane was shipped back to Santa Monica for repairs. Before another attempt could be made, Lieutenant John Arthur Macready and Lieutenant Oakley George Kelly, United States Army, made a successful non-stop flight with a Nederlandse Vliegtuigenfabriek Fokker T-2, 2–3 May 1923.

After this, Davis pulled out of the company. The Cloudster was sold to Ryan for $6,000.

During Prohibition,¹ the Cloudster was used to fly contraband alcoholic beverages into the United States from Mexico. In December 1926, it made a crash landing on a beach near Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, and was damaged beyond repair.

Three-view scale illustration of the modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster, (also known as the Ryan Cloudster). (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Passenger cabin of Ryan Airlines’ modified Davis-Douglas Cloudster. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
The Smugglers’ Lair. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Loading contraband. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)
Smuggler’s Blues: The wreck of Ryan Airlines’ Davis-Douglas Cloudster, near Ciudad de Ensenada, Baja California del Sur, Mexico, December 1926. (San Diego Air & Space Museum)

¹ Prohibition was an era between 1920 and 1933, when the production, sale and importation of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the United States. This gave rise to organized crime,  tax evasion, “boot leggers,” “rum runners,” “speak easys” and “bathtub gin.”

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

1 March 1912

Antony H. Jannus and Captain Albert Berry, U.S. Army, prior to their flight, at Kinloch Field, Missouri, 1 March 1912. The parachute is packed inside the inverted cone. (Missouri Historical Society N30169)

1 March 1912: At Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, Captain Albert Berry, United States Army, made the first parachute jump from an airplane.

Pilot Antony H. Jannus and Captain Berry took off from Kinloch Field, a balloon-launching field in Kinloch Park, (now, Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, STL) and flew aboard a 1911 Benoist Type XII School Plane, 18 miles (29 kilometers) to the drop zone at Jefferson Barracks. The airplane was a pusher biplane which was based on a Curtiss pusher, and is also called the Benoist Headless.

Barry had his parachute packed inside a conical container mounted beneath the airplane’s lower wing. They climbed to an altitude of 1,500 feet (457 meters).

When the reached the desired altitude and were over the barracks’ parade grounds, Berry attached the parachute to a harness that he was wearing, then lowered himself on a trapeze-like bar suspended in front of the wings. He pulled a lanyard which released him. The parachute was opened by a static line.

Captain Albert Berry parachuting from teh Benoist biplane over Jefferson Barracks, 1 March 1912. (NASM)
Captain Albert Berry parachuting from the Benoist biplane over Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, 1 March 1912. (NASM)

The Associated Press reported the event:

ST. LOUIS, March 1. —For the first time in the history of a heavier-than-air flying machine, a man leaped from an aeroplane at Jefferson barracks this afternoon and descended safely to earth in a parachute. Capt. Albert Berry made the spectacular leap and it was witnessed by hundreds of cheering soldiers.

Berry and Pilot Jannus left the Kinlock aviation field in the afternoon in a two-passenger biplane, carrying beneath the machine, in a specially constructed case, a large parachute. With practiced hand Jannus steadied the machine, Berry gave a quick jerk of a rope and, while the aeroplane, first bouncing up like a cork, suddenly poised and steadied itself.

Hundreds of watchers held their breath as Berry shot toward the earth, the parachute trailing after him in a long, snaky line. Suddenly the parachute opened, the rapidity of the descent was checked and, amid cheers, the first aviator to make such an attempt lightly reached the ground.

A local newspaper reported:


Parachute Drops 300 Feet Before Opening at Jefferson Barracks.


Jannus, Driver of Machine, Says “Never Again,” After Sunday Exhibition.

     Albert Berry, formerly a professional parachute jumper, and son of Capt. John Berry, licensed balloon pilot, carried out his twice deferred jump from an aeroplane yesterday afternoon. After riding as a passenger with Anthony Jannus in a Benoist biplane from Kinloch Field to Jefferson Barracks, he cut loose his parachute at a height of about 1500 feet. He landed hard, but safely, just south of the mess hall.The soldiers at the barracks were startled when they saw the parachute and man falling, for it did not open until it had dropped like lead for 300 feet.

     After Jannus and Berry had warmed themselves in the office of Col. W. T. Wood, Jannus climbed into his machine and flew back to Kinloch. He lost his bearings, mistaking the St. Charles for the Natural Bridge road, and flew almost to the Missouri River at a height of nearly 4000 feet. Realizing his mistake, he flew back to his hangar. This trip occupied twenty-seven minutes. The flight to Jefferson Barracks required only twenty minutes, with the passenger aboard. The air line distance between the two pints is about seventeen miles.

Jannus Dislikes Experience.

     Tom Benoist, originator of the plan and builder of the aeroplane used, said he would have like to have done with it. Jannus said:

     “As far as I am concerned, Sunday will be the last time for this stunt. We are in duty bound to the people who paid admission to see the jump a week ago Sunday, to do it once more. We hope to get through with it next Sunday. After that, never again.”

     Berry’s ideas are different. He will continue the jumping as an exhibition trick if he can find an aviator to co-operate with him. It is understood already offers of large guarantees have been made him by promoters of amusement enterprises, one of them in New York.

     Berry had made so many jumps of the same nature from hot-air balloons that he was expert in the work, and he had not suffered from the hard landing. But both he and Jannus were chilled through, and plenty of hot cocoa from thermos bottles was needed to get them warm.

St. Louis Globe-Democrat,  Vol. 37—No. 288, Saturday, 2 March 1912, Page 1, Column 6.

The Washington Times wrote:


Antony Jannus Drives Biplane From Which man Drops in Parachute.

     Antony Jannus, a former Washington boy, and Capt. Albert Berry, of St. Louis, winner of the national balloon race from Indianapolis last year, figured in a spectacular aerial performance in St. Louis yesterday afternoon, Capt. Berry jumping from an aeroplane in a parachute. Jannus was the aviator.

The feat of Captain Berry and Jannus is the first time that a man has jumped from an aeroplane in a parachute. This accomplishment was considered dangerous by the majority of aviators, it being thought that the aeroplane, becoming free of the extra burden, would spring upward, turn turtle, and crash to the earth. Captain Berry jumped from an altitude of between 1,000 and 1,500 feet, made a perfect landing, while the aeroplane, driven by the Washington boy, flew on without any difficulty in maintaining an equilibrium.

     Since Captain Berry has accomplished the feat of dropping from an aeroplane, it is possible this new “stunt” will be experimented with by the army aviators within a year.

The Washington Times, Number 7376, Saturday, 2 March 1912, Page 3, Column 6

© 2021, Bryan R. Swopes