The Fokker T-2 that made the first nonstop transcontinental trip across the United States in 1923 dwarfs the little Verville-Sperry M-1 Messenger next to it. Designed by Anthony Fokker and Reinhold Platz, the T-2 was originally a Fokker F-IV, but the U.S. Army Air Service called it the Air Service Transport 2 (T-2) after it purchased the airplane in 1922. Powered by a Liberty engine, modified with extra fuel tanks and other changes and crewed by two army lieutenants — John Macready and Oakley Kelly — the Fokker lifted off from Long Island on May 2 and headed west. Twenty-six hours and 50 minutes later, the big monoplane touched down in San Diego, California. The airplane is now part of the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
It’s possible the photographer paired the Fokker with the Verville-Sperry as a way to accentuate the monoplane’s size, for the biplane was smaller than average — in fact, it is the Army’s smallest manned airplane. With a wingspan of only 20 feet (one-fourth the size of the Fokker’s), the M-1 was intended for use by couriers to deliver messages to the front. It was designed by Lawrence Sperry, who crashed and drowned in an M-1 while trying to fly across the English Channel in 1923, the same year the T-2 traversed the United States.
Our 9 best-selling history titles feature in-depth storytelling and iconic imagery to engage and inform on the people, the wars, and the events that shaped America and the world.