‘Around The Rim Flight’

Since posting that Boyd and I will soon be departing on a flight to circumnavigate the perimeter of America, the postman surprised me with an unexpected delivery. The moment I opened the Priority Mail envelope, I knew I was holding a gem! Given our plan to fly the entire border of the lower 48 in our RV7, the hardback book titled ‘The Around the Rim Flight’ must surely be a gift from heaven.

It turned out thanks go to LLT member Ann Pellegreno, but she must have been inspired from above. How else to explain this incredible piece of aviation history dropping in my lap as we’re about to depart on our own ‘around the rim’ flight?

Glenn Martin Bomber, GMB, made a famous “Round-the-Rim Flight” 1919.

The book was written by Miriam Orr Seymour, who I soon learned is a successful pilot in her own right. I couldn’t wait to dig in.

99 years ago, in 1919, 5 members of the U.S. Air Service attempted to fly a Glenn Martin bomber around the periphery of the U.S. Their flight covered some territory so remote, it had yet to be explored. Much of the land below them was uncharted and the crew of the GMB were the first to see it from aloft. The western U.S. had few established airports and most landing sites were chosen based on the best option of fields below them.

After completing most of their mission, they returned to their home base after 3 and a half months, the flight a monumental achievement.

Five men began the flight, one was injured and replaced, and five men completed it. Departing from Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., on July 24, 1919, they flew in a counterclockwise direction westward across the northern states, down the Pacific Coast, and eastward along the Mexican border. Flying across the southern states they arrived back at Bolling on Nov. 9, 1919. The total distance approximately 10,000 miles was flown in 114 hours, 45 minutes. It was a tremendous achievement for aviation and a huge accomplishment for one of the first multi-engine bombers.

The above photo highlights the text and patriotic graphic proudly displayed on the side of the aircraft, “CIRCUMNAVIGATING THE STATES. AROUND AMERICA FLIGHT.” 99 Years ago, flying the perimeter of the U.S. was a huge risk to life and aircraft. These gentlemen spent many weeks on the ground repairing their aircraft, waiting on weather, all the while spreading positive words about the future of aviation. Their accomplishment was monumental.

Times have changed and modern-day avionics and aircraft design seem light-years from 1919. Today, the experimental RV7 we’ll be flying has an exceptionally reliable engine, clean fuel distribution system, modern navigation system including GPS, auto pilot, glass panel, very accurate engine and fuel information systems and 760 channel COM, transponder and ADS-B. Back in 1919, the most relied on piece of navigation equipment was the magnetic compass. Oil pressure, oil temperature and water temperature were closely monitored because of the temperamental nature of the Liberty engines.

Our RV7 is a small taildragger with a tight cockpit but we’ll be comfy as we zip along at 175 mph. Unlike the crew of the GMB, I can assure you one thing -  we won’t be climbing out on the wing in sub-zero temps, at a 90 mph relative wind, to stop an oil leak while the engine is running!

Thanks to both Ann Pellegreno and Giacinta Bradley Koontz, a friend of the author, I’ve learned  more about Miriam Orr Seymour. She is 96 years old and I’m told she still drives, does not wear glasses and lives in Tuscon, Arizona. My ‘Around The Rim Flight’ book will travel with me on our own rim flight and we plan on landing in Tuscon. If luck is with us, we’ll meet Miriam, talk some aviation, and hopefully, she will sign my book. In an effort to spread the word about her book, Giacinta put this flyer together for me to pass around and post in airport FBOs around the country. 100% of book proceeds will go to 96 year old Miriam Orr Seymour.  (Click on link for full image flyer)


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