Collection Item Summary:
Presented to Lt. Lowell Smith, commander of the Douglas World Cruiser flight by the Mid-America Airport, St. Joseph, Missouri. Colonel Lowell H. Smith was a pioneer in military aviation. He was born on October 8, 1892 and graduated from San Fernando College in 1912. Three years later, Smith joined the Aviation Service in the Mexican Army before returning to the United States in 1917 to enlist in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. After World War I, Smith began his record setting career when he placed second in the Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Contest from New York to San Francisco. In 1923, he finished third in the Liberty Engine Builders Race in St. Louis, Missouri. Smith and Lieutenant John Richter set a new world record in August of the same year. With the help of in-flight refueling, they flew non-stop for 37 hours and 11 minutes in a DH-4 over San Diego. For this, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The round-the-world flight that made Smith famous was accomplished in 1924 for the U.S. Army Air Service. Five Douglas World Cruisers were specially-built for the project. The aircraft were named Seattle, Chicago, Boston and the New Orleans and also included a prototype for test flights. The flight commander, Major Frederick L. Martin, flew the Seattle. Smith, Lt. Leigh Wade and Lt. Erik H. Nelson piloted the Chicago, the Boston, and the New Orleans, respectively. The crew took off from Seattle on April 6, 1924, but soon ran into trouble when Martin crashed over Alaska. Smith was made flight commander and landed back in Seattle on September 28 after flying 27,553 miles in 371 hours and 11 minutes. He received the Distinguished Service Medal for the historic flight.
Smith remained in the Army until his death on November 5, 1945. During World War II, the Colonel trained heavy bombardment crews at Davis-Monthan Field in Tucson, Arizona. During his career, he set sixteen world records for military aircraft speed and endurance. He was given the Distinguished Service Medal for his service in WWI, the Mackay Medals as the outstanding American military flier in 1919 and 1924, and the Helen Culver Gold Medal in 1925. Smith was also an Officer of the French Legion of Honor.
Collection Item Long Description:
National Air and Space Museum
Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
Donated by Mrs. Lowell H. Smith
- Overall: Leather
- License: Brass, Enamel
- Window: Cellulose Nitrate
- 3-D (Wallet, Folded): 11.5 × 8 × 1.5cm (4 1/2 × 3 1/8 × 9/16 in.)
- 3-D (Pass): 11 × 5.7 × 0.2cm (4 5/16 × 2 1/4 × 1/16 in.)
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National Air and Space Museum Collection
Country of Origin
United States of America
Brown leather tri-fold wallet with inscribed brass card with Mid-America Airport logo.