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Syracuse American, June 4
Today /By Arthur Brisbane
Captain Frank Hawks, flying non-stop from Los Angeles, reached New York after thirteen and a half hours in the air.

During daylight hours the plane was piloted, steered by a robot pilot, Captain Hawks simply watching his mechanical comrade, which had been “set to 15,000 feet,” and kept that altitude consistently, mile after mile. When darkness came, Hawks took the controls and let the robot “rest,” that plan being safer.

Hawks, who has often flown across the continent, said this was his “first chance to look the country over and enjoy the scenery.” This flight means more to mechanical achievement, perhaps, than anything that has happened since the world began. To fly through the air, nearly 3,000 miles, 15,000 feet up, the plane controlled by an inanimate machine, is a new wonder.

Hawks did the navigating, for man, with all his genius, cannot teach a robot to think.

Thus Frank Hawks broke his own record for a non-stop west-to-east transcontinental flight. He made the June flight in 13 hours and 26 minutes, breaking his old record, set in 1929, by four hours and ten minutes.

This was a personal best, however. There were so many pilots zooming here, there and everywhere in 1933, that newspaper accounts often proved confusing. Three months later, for example, it would be reported that Roscoe Turned flew from Los Angeles to New York in ten hours, five minutes and 30 seconds, breaking the record set in 1932 by Jimmy Haizlip, who flew the 2,520 miles in ten hours and 19 minutes.

In any event, Frank Hawks was one of the country's most famous pilots. Here is an excerpt from an interesting online biography as it refers to his record-setting 1933 flight:

Hawks never overworked his plane during his speed dashes, instead attempted to demonstrate the practical, safe speed for commercial air transportation, according optimum consideration to both man and machine in the process.

One revolutionary modification that Hawks made to Sky Chief was the addition of the then-new Sperry automatic pilot. He tested the system during his transcontinental dash in the new Gamma beginning on June 2, 1933, when he took off from Los Angeles at 5:51 a.m., headed for New York City.

This flight was to be a severe test for the automatic pilot. Hawks controlled the Gamma until he began to cross the Rocky Mountains, then turned the controls over to the robot, which he referred to as his 'brainless assistant.' While the robot was in control, Hawks occupied himself with navigation. When the plane reached the Allegheny Mountains, the pilot took control again, landing at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

The 2,500-mile nonstop flight was completed in 13 hours, 27 minutes, a new transcontinental record. The automatic pilot had controlled the plane for about 60 percent of the flight, thereby proving the invention's dependability. Two months later Hawks flew, using the automatic pilot, from Vancouver, Canada, to Quebec City in 17 hours, 10 minutes, despite passing through storms for 600 miles of the course.

 

Hawks retired from air racing in 1937 and became a vice president of the Gwinn Aircar Company. A year later he was in a Gwinn Aircar that crashed during takeoff when Hawks failed to clear telephone lines at the edge of a polo field in East Aurora, New York (near Buffalo). He and a passenger, sportsman J. Hazard Campbell, were both killed. Hawks was 41 years old.

 
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